Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Local News Washington County

County farm takes center stage at commission meeting

May 28th, 2014 9:01 am by Gary B. Gray

County farm takes center stage at commission meeting

Top, the county farm property. Bottom, neighborhood homes bordering the county farm.

Not much has happened at the Greenfield “County” Farm since last November when the Washington County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to set the property aside for agricultural use as well as future expansion of the county’s agriculture extension office.

However, Tess Lloyd, a co-chair of the newly formed Property Owners Bordering the Washington County Greenfield Farm, let commissioners know Tuesday that the new association does want in on future plans and will be attending County Commission and committee meetings to have a say in its fate.

Lloyd said the neighborhood organization is mainly comprised of the owners of 18 properties bordering the county farm.

“Our quality of life, land value and security are directly affected by what goes on there,” she told commissioners. “Because we’re so vulnerable to changes in land use at the county farm, several county officials have suggested that we form a neighborhood association so we could collectively voice our concerns, and we did so this spring.

“The purpose of our association is to simplify and expedite communication about the county farm between county officials and property owners bordering the farm. We know that the proposals for the farm come up from time to time, and we want to be a part of those conversations.”

The 40-year-old, 50-acre county farm a few miles southeast of Jonesborough is not being used, save a caretaker who stays there. There has been talk of using it as a passage point for homeless veterans, but that has been off the table for some time.

In 2012, County Mayor Dan Eldridge met with Richard McClain, Johnson City Housing Authority chief operating officer, and learned of the organization’s interest in signing a lease with the county to follow through with that plan. McClain said at the time the county farm could be used for homeless veterans through Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, a HUD program in which veterans apply for housing through the VA.

But the JCHA’s role was never clearly defined and the matter has not been brought to the full commission for serious public discussion.

The organization is co-chaired by Marie Jackson, and both Lloyd and Jackson reside on County Farm Road in Jonesborough.

Lloyd said members of the group already have spoken with members of the County-Owned Property Committee, the CIA Committee and the Washington County Regional Planning Commission.

“We also will be attending your meetings,” she said. “Marie and I are in constant communication with everyone in our association. We will keep them informed about what the county is considering for the farm, and we will convey their thoughts and concerns to you.”

Commissioners also approved two resolutions accepting proposed plans by the Tennessee Department of Transportation for two projects along Tenn. Highway 93. Both are “spot improvements,” according to Highway Department Superintendent Johnny Deakins.

The first, which is in the preliminary stage, is from north of Davis Road to just north of Fire Hall Road. The second is between Morgan Lane to just south of Baileyton Road in Sullivan County.

“TDOT will be making improvements, including widening the road and reworking some shoulders in these two sections,” Deakins said. “They have to get the county to sign off on this before they can acquire rights-of-way, so it is not something that’s going to be taking place real soon. There will be five or six structures demolished in the first section, but nothing of historic significance. Again, this is in the very preliminary stages.”

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