Developer Larry Armour Planning Major Development At Cleveland; Search For City Manager Progressing

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - by Gail Perry

A request has been made for the city of Cleveland to abandon the right-of-way along Stone Lake Road S.W. near APD 40, around I-75 exit 20. A retail commercial development is being built at the location by Larry Armour. It is expected to create 1,000 jobs. The application has already been heard by the planning commission where there was no opposition and was given a recommendation for approval.

A public meeting on the matter took place at the Monday afternoon meeting of the Cleveland City Council where the project was described as a " plus- plus" for the community. The property that runs along both sides of a roadway amounts to a total of over an acre of land that the city will give up to improve access to the development. Additionally, this will put the property back on the tax rolls. Mayor Tom Rowland said Mr. Armour has donated more land to the city than he will be getting in this transaction, among others, property for a welcome center at the Cherokee National Forest and right-of-ways for other road systems in Cleveland. The mayor asked him to make a list of property that he has donated before the next council meeting when a vote will take place on abandonment.

Ginger Buchanan, representative of the Health and Facilities board of directors, told the council that the board has been asked to approve a PILOT for rehabilitating the Springbrook Apartments. Alco Management, a company based in Memphis that specializes in providing low-income housing, is asking for the tax credits. A state law passed June 1, 2015 that allows the board to consider the request and make a recommendation, but the board would like to urge the city council to make the final decision and to have final control.

Alco is requesting the tax credits amounting to $12,000-$13,000 annually, split between the city and Bradley County, to be suspended for 20 years, but would be happy with a 10-year contract, it was stated. The firm plans to spend $3 million on the renovation. Rents will be based on income, and Alco is committed to the project for 30 years. Although he said he was in favor of low income housing, Councilman Richard Banks said the council has had very little notice and needs to inform the public. He asked for a vote to be put on the agenda of the first meeting in April.

Discussion took place about the police services building and the hours it is open to the public. Consultant Larry Wallace told the council that in a city the size of Cleveland, the building should be open 24 hours a day. In a report by Mr. Wallace on improving police services, he made the recommendation that employees in that building should be protected with bullet-proof glass. He said he is concerned that after a vote of agreement for his recommendations, nine months have passed with nothing being done. He said if something happens, the city would be liable and a recommendation was made to do this work quickly. Assistant City Manager Melinda Carroll said that work is scheduled to begin by March 15.

Mr. Wallace also updated the council on progress made by the search committee for a new city manager. The committee has put the finishing touches on a brochure advertising the job. With the council’s approval, which he received, Mr. Wallace said he was "ready to push the go button." The firm hired to lead the search expects to get roughly 75 applications. The committee will review the ones that are received weekly. An objective scoring matrix has been established based on education and experience, which is intended to eliminate the subjective "good old boy politics."

Progress on Cleveland High School’s new Raiders Arena was reported by a school board member who said that the ribbon cutting will take place Sunday, April 24, at 4 p.m.

Councilman Bill Estes told the council that he would like to get professional advice before borrowing any more money. He said too much interest has been paid and suggested looking at options. Advice will be needed about building a new elementary school, said Councilman Banks.

Paul Clark, who owns five townhouses on Mouse Creek Road in Cleveland, told the council that he pays $1,800 yearly in property taxes. He would like to be able to vote in local elections even though he lives outside of the city. City Attorney John Kimball told him that the city charter requires that to vote, the parcel owned must be a minimum of 5,000 square feet and the person must have a 50 percent fee simple interest. The historical background on that decision was that in the past during delinquent tax sales, a sliver of land would be bought and divided among large numbers of people, just to be able to vote. Avery Johnson told Mr. Clark that the law was not written for people like him, but for people who abused property ownership. The land involved in this case is deeded separately, so does not meet the 5,000 total square feet requirement, therefore Mr. Clark will not be allowed to vote in Cleveland’s municipal election.

The council has received complaints about a large number of traffic accidents that take place on Paul Huff Parkway. They involve people leaving the shopping centers and restaurants trying to get onto I-75, which requires crossing three lanes of traffic. It was decided to have a traffic study done by Cannon and Cannon, Inc. to try and find a solution.

Household trash pick-up was also a topic of discussion. The city code says trash should be put out no sooner than the night before pick-up. It is recognized that help to move large objects to the street may only be available at other times. If citizens call ahead the city will bring a truck for them to use when needed. Another problem occurs when renters move and dump items when moving, which becomes the responsibility of the property owner. It is also known that people come from outside of the city and unload trash at apartment dumpsters. The public works director and city attorney gave assurances that the city is willing to work with those owners instead of issuing fines.

Cleveland Recycles second annual 5-K run and one mile walk will take place Saturday morning, April 30, at 8:30 at the Greenway Park. Registration can be done only online to cut down on paper waste. Participants will be required to bring four recyclable objects the morning of the race. Last year was very successful, said Mayor Rowland, with 2,500 pounds of recycles being collected.


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