An off premises billboard, beer permit variance, a million dollar over budget Camp Jordan Parkway, and a packed agenda featuring 15 other separate items the City Council worked to stay focused and on task to deal with each issue as quickly as possible.
At the end of a rather routine agenda session, Interim City Manager Mike Williams informed the council that during the next meeting the council will take up the issue of placing no parking signs around the 3800 block of Altamira. He explained that the street was narrow and at that point in the street a curve exists and vehicles parked in the street were making it difficult and dangerous for vehicles forced to navigate the curve blindly.
Councilmen Jacky Cagle and Larry Sewell both stated that they had received similar complaints about parking on the street. Councilman Sewell stated he’d been asked why street parking wasn’t banned on all city side streets since most of the ones in the city are narrow and would be difficult for emergency vehicles to traverse on street parking.
Williams then stated that he wasn’t sure about a city-wide ban because there may be homes without driveways. The councilmen agreed and stated that issue needed to be looked into but they felt if a person had a driveway it should be used.
The Interim City Manager asked if the issue on Altamira could be moved up to the current meeting. City Attorney Hal North cautioned against such a move because the offending parties have had no notice and should be able to come before the council to state their case. He stated that while routine in the past to move things from the agenda session to the agenda of the same nights meeting he cautioned strongly against that unless the item was something that could not wait.
Mayor Brent Lambert asked the Interim City Manager to notify the residents of the intentions to make that section of the street no parking and to let them know the issue will be addressed at the October 29th council meeting. He then further asked that city staff look into the matter to see if every home in East Ridge has a driveway.
The council ended the agenda session by discussing the City Treasurer position. Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt stated that he felt that the treasurer should be hired by the new city manager as the two persons will need to work closely together. Councilman Cagle stated that he understood that but it would take four to six months to hire a city manager and a new treasurer would be needed prior to that. The Mayor further suggested that the city create a position for a finance person to just deal with the Border Region Act and to work with Mark Mamantov, the Industrial Development Board attorney on Boarder Region issues. He further stated the cost of creating such a position would be reimbursable under the act.
Williams informed the council that they currently had eight or nine applicants for the city treasurer position and the job posting closes on Oct 23rd. Councilman Cagle stated it may be possible to find a treasurer and a boarder region person out of the current pool of applicants.
The agenda session was then adjourned for a brief executive session prior to the start of the regular council meeting.
During the communications from citizens portion of the meeting Matthew DeGlopper spoke to the council and stated that with only three meetings left before the end of the year he hoped that action would soon be taken to begin finding a City Manager. To this, Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt replied that the issue had been discussed during the executive session and that they would begin taking steps to fill the vacant position.
The first item under old business was the second and final reading of an ordinance that allowed the city to operate a Fire Hall at 1410 St. Tomas St. This item passed unanimously.
The Crestwood Garden Club returned to the council for third time to discuss “Jo’s Garden” at Camp Jordan. Parks and Recreation Director Stump Martin gave the city a rundown of the city’s estimated costs to complete the garden for dirt and mulch. He stated that he had initially received two quick estimates for fences for the garden of $997 for a picket fence that would be painted white, and for $1,845.97 for a black four-foot chain link fence that matched the ones currently in the park. He further stated that the fence would not be needed until the spring but the other items would be needed sooner so the garden club could begin the work of planting. Councilman Cagle preposed approving the project with a $2,000 cap on cost so the fence could be bid out and purchased when needed and not have to come back before the council. This idea was accepted and subsequently approved.
The first item up under new business was discussion of a variance for Save-A-Lot to obtain a beer permit to sell package beer for off premises consumption. Mayor Lambert stated that work was still being done by the City Attorney to make the city’s unique residential restrictions more clear. Councilman Denny Manning asked if the residents that were too close to Save-A-Lot had been notified of the meeting and variance request. He also suggest that when they take up changes that they might make notification part of the official method for dealing with these issues in the future. The variance was then passed with Councilman Manning abstaining.
The council then approved two requests from East Ridge Elementary School, one for use of the Arena for the Commencement Ceremony for 5th graders on May 24th 2016 and another for the City to hang banners promoting the Fourth Annual Pioneer Palooza on October 24th.
This was followed by approval of another request from the East Ridge Masonic Lodge to hang banners for a fundraiser.
The City Council then discussed the bids for Camp Jordan Parkway Project. The bids for Phase I of the project which entailed the widening and straightening of Camp Jordan Parkway had previously come in at $2.6 million. The new bids for the scaled-down project came in at $1.825 and $1.951 million. After discussion, the council decided to award the bid to the high bidder of Talley Construction. Click here to find out more about this issue.
Next up a was a public hearing on Ordinance 996, which would allow for an off-premise billboard at 6800 Ringgold Rd. No member of the public came forward to speak. Vice Mayor Gravitt then asked the applicant what the intended use of the billboard was. The applicant said that it was to sell advertising to businesses, potentially those on Camp Jordan Parkway or events coming to Camp Jordan. The Vice Mayor followed up by asking if the billboard was an LED billboard. The applicant informed the council that it was, but would be set with a device that dimmed the billboard by 50 percent after dark.
The council approved the Ordinance for the LED Billboard in a 4 to 1 vote with Mayor Lambert being the lone nay vote.
The Vice Mayor then stated that he felt that with this billboard added to the Camp Jordan side of Ringgold Rd that it may be time to put a moratorium on billboards. He stated that he felt Ringgold Road had enough of them, and that the council should consider having a meeting or workshop to further discuss the rest of the long overdue changes to the sign ordinance. A meeting was then scheduled for those purposes to be held on November 2nd at 11am.
The Council then passed on first reading Ordinance 997 a house-keeping measure that repealed a previous ordinance and amended another to revise development standards for open air markets
City employee Amanda Miller asked for approval of the council to participate in the State Recycling Rebate Matching Grant Program. She informed the council that with the city’s purchase of additional recycling cans their obligations to the matching grant would be met, and by participating in the rebate program the city would receive approximately $1,400 back. The resolution was then unanimously approved.
A resolution hiring an engineering firm to conduct a traffic count as part of the McBrien Road resurfacing project was then approved. Miller also informed the council that as part of the project the city would be coordinating with the City of Chattanooga to ensure the last 70 feet from the East Ridge City line to the intersection at South Terrace and McBrien Road would be paved at the same time to ensure a seamless transition.
As a housekeeping matter the council approved two resolutions that actually named the engineering firm providing services for two separate grant projects. The council next gave their blessing to the opening of an interest bearing checking account for the newly created Grant Fund.
Resolution 2518 was unanimously approved authorizing the purchase of t-shirts for the 2015-16 indoor soccer season.
Unanimous approval was also given to resolution 2519 allowing the city council to purchase HVAC units for Camp Jordan Arena directly from Trane due to issues the city has had with the Halloran Corporation. Halloran will still be installing the units just not purchasing them like originally agreed.
Finally Police Chief J.R. Reed came before the council to discuss the department’s motorcycles. He informed the council that the Harley Davidson dealership we currently leased from is ending their lease program and had offered the city a chance to purchase the motorcycles. The city currently leases the bikes $3600 per year. Knoxville Harley Davidson offered to sell us the current bikes for $9,600 each for a total of more than $36,000. The Chief said he contacted another dealer in Murfreesboro who agreed to lease us motorcycles. He said the new dealer would charge an additional $75 per bike, per month. However, the lease was for two years instead of one, which would save the city about $500 per motorcycle by having the equipment changed over and new stickering being done biannually. The end result would still be an additional cost of $650 per year, per motorcycle.
Vice Mayor Gravitt asked the Chief if the motorcycles were necessary since the officers using them were also issued a squad car. Chief Reed said the motorcycles were used in parades and for escorts. He also stated they had certain advantages in traffic patrol situations.
The motion was then made for the City to obtain new leases for motorcycles at the Murfreesboro dealership and unanimously approved, concluding the meeting.
The next regular meeting of the East Ridge City Council is scheduled for Thursday, October 29th at 6:30 pm at East Ridge City Hall on Tombras Ave.