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published on 03/13/2006

New CVS Impacts Highway

By staff writer

Over 40 Signal Mountain residents met in the Town Hall on Monday, March 13th to witness the meeting of the Town Council. All members were present. Mayor Bill Leonard called the meeting to order, led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and then offered an opening prayer.

The minutes to several work sessions and one regular meeting were approved as corrected. The first order of business, which lasted about half an hour, consisted of discussion of a traffic proposal from Volkert Engineering. Representing the firm was Steve Meyer. The acting public works director, Loretta Hopper addressed the Council with the results of the proposal pertaining to the congestion at the new CVS. After questions from the Council and members of the audience, the Council thanked Mr. Meyer for his opinion and led the audience to believe that the Council was going to discuss the proposal, hear concerns and comments from town residents who were invited to call or email the town manager. However, at the end of the meeting Councilman Linehart asked the town manager, Diana Campbell if she was going ahead with the proposal and she said yes.

Work should be complete within a few weeks according to Mr. Meyer. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will do all the lane changes at no cost other than a few minor items. Plans are to create a center turn lane at or around Signal Road that extends down the mountain past Signal Mountain Boulevard. All through traffic going down the mountain will be in the right lane.

Two key issues are the safety of cars backing out of businesses into one lane now between Ronnie’s and the Cleaners; and cars turning left onto Signal Mountain Boulevard and cars turning left into CVS are now in the same lane and must take turns turning left. Both these issues can be addressed if traffic slows down. The Council only agreed to the proposal if the speed limit is reduced to 30 miles an hour, which they will address in an ordinance change in upcoming meetings.

In other business Chris J. Howley was appointed to the Design Review Commission to fill the remaining term of Don Moon, which expires December 31, 2007. Also Dr. David Adair was granted temporary use of a portion of right of way for a driveway. The second reading of the ordinance to amend the budget to provide a change in expenditures for $25,147, to pay for the blocks for the Signal Mountain Swim Team was approved. A change from the first reading included mentioning $6,000 the Swim Team will reimburse the Town for the expenditure. In addition Mayor Leonard noted that he had spoken to Walden Town Mayor Peter Hetzler, who offered to speak in support of Walden helping to pay for a portion of the blocks since about one fourth of the swim team live in the Town of Walden. Mayor Leonard stated, “This is another way our communities are getting together.”

A zoning ordinance approved of and presented to the Council by the Planning Commission was tabled until the next meeting. Although Planning Commission Chairman Dan Saieed and town attorney Phil Noblett were present to address any questions or concerns, Mayor Leonard felt the entire council needed more time to read over the long document. Both he and the other Councilmembers praised Mr. Noblett and the Planning Commission for the many hours and meetings that went into making these decisions.

Lou Oliphant reported that a parcel of land on James Boulevard had been approved by the Planning Commission for a small development of homes to be built.

The council voted to change the pay for the Town Judge, after the current term ends in August 2006. Qualifying papers are due to the election commission by April 6th, which falls before the next town council meeting; therefore those running for Town Judge would need to know what the pay and benefits are. The current Town Judge is eligible for benefits, but any Town Judge after this term would not be due to a change in the town’s benefit package not offering benefits to part-time employees. The pay was raised to $15,000 a year.

Vice-mayor Ruffin asked that the council discuss the money accrued for the high school in the amount of $752,998. The general consensus was that it be used to lower the debt of the $7.7 million the town has pledged to pay for the support of the high school.

During citizens opportunity to address the Council, Mr. Blake Daniel a resident on Shackleford Ridge Road, expressed his concern over the behavior of Councilmember Linehart after a Planning Commission meeting, reporting that he had filed a police report on the Councilmember’s behavior. Councilmember Linehart responded by saying he disagreed with Mr. Daniel’s opinion of what took place.

None of the Councilmembers had anything to report but when the town manager announced that she would be pursuing the proposed lane changes at the CVS the audience began to grumble with opinions and Mayor Leonard ended the meeting. It was 8:55 PM. The next meeting of the Town Council is Monday, April 10, 2006, at 7:00 PM in the Town Hall.
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