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City accepts bid for business development/flood mitigation site

August 21st, 2014 9:43 pm by Gary B. Gray

City accepts bid for business development/flood mitigation site

The City Commission started the ball rolling Thursday on a potential $5 million commercial development along West State of Franklin Road that would come with additional storm water storage at no cost to the city.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept a $350,000 bid from Raleigh, N.C.-based Coalyard Restoration LLC for a portion of the former Atmos property on which the company plans to incorporate into a 23,000-square-foot commercial development incorporating restaurants and retail space.

Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin and Commissioner Jeff Banyas voiced their desires to see the property developed, but both also raised the question of whether the property should be used primarily for flood mitigation and not for development.

In the end, commissioners seemed satisfied that there is a possibility for both.

“We continue to have flooding problems downtown,” Van Brocklin said. “Does it make sense to do this?”

Banyas said he wanted to see the property developed. But he, too, expressed concerns about storm water storage and asked if the company would come up with a revamped plan for excess water.

Following nearly an hour-long discussion, commissioners agreed to accept the offer contingent on Coalyard running the numbers and presenting to commissioners in a few weeks a plan that would add more storm water capabilities than what currently is shown in its site plan.

There are additional conditions. The company would need to send plans through the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission, including its storm water system plan and verification of floodplain offsets. It also would need approval of use and re-use of any city-owned property upstream from Brush Creek.

Before the sale could become final, Coalyard would need to have the planning commission approve its site plan and undergo a successful rezoning of the property from I-2 (heavy industrial) to B-3 (supporting central business district business). A final OK would need to come from the City Commission after three readings of the company’s proposal in the form of an ordinance.

“It’s important for leasing purposes to have assurance we would be able to possess the property,” Eric Brinker, Coalyard Restoration’s manager told commissioners when the move seemed to headed for deferral. “We would incur the costs to meet storm water needs. All we are asking is that you approve the sale contingent on the requirements. That way, we can do our design work and get the site work going.”

The city’s proposal calls for a utility/transportation easement at the site and at least 70-percent brick material on any exterior surfaces.

Brinker said the company’s flood storage compensation plan would leave the city more potential to expand its storm water capabilities and allow more development to occur along the Brush Creek floodway and the State of Franklin showcase corridor.

Meanwhile, commissioners approved a first reading of an ordinance aimed at encouraging safety alarm users to better maintain systems in order to improve reliability and reduce false alarms.

The regulations establish penalties for violations for repeated summoning of emergency personnel when and where emergencies did not exist.

Language in city code, Chapter 6, would now grant each alarm site three false alarms violations within a rolling, 12-month period before enforcement action commences, except in the case of malicious intent.

The three violations would accumulate separately for each emergency responder -- not just the police department of fire department. Also, alarms activated intentional without reason would be considered an action that would be prosecuted immediately, without consideration of previous alarm dispatches.

Additionally, a malicious false alarm would include a hold-up or robbery alarm, which generally result from signals generated by manually, when such an emergency did not exist.

In any instance where emergency responders are dispatched and the alarm is determined to be false, a fine up to $50 may be assessed by the Johnson City Municipal Court. Alarms that are canceled prior to emergency services arrival will not be considered an offense.

It also will be a violation for an alarm company to activate a false alarm while installing or repairing systems, unless the fire or police departments are notified to cancel the call prior to their arrival.

The court also may asses and render a judgement for the actual costs of the response, including but not limited to costs of equipment, fuel, personnel and supplies.

Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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