City considers land development near I-26

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A resolution authorizing a feasibility study for property located near Interstate 26 comes before Elizabethton City Council Thursday night. The city and Carter County government have partnered to pursue land development with each municipality paying $1,250 to fund a study conducted by Tysinger, Hampton & Partners of Johnson City.
   "Recognizing we need to expand our land reserves for business and industrial purposes, we've asked an engineering firm to perform a site analysis of sites in Carter, particularly in proximity to I-26," City Manager Charles Stahl said Monday.
   The city and county have been scrambling for land to develop new industrial and commercial property. Stahl said approximately 19 acres remain for development in the city-owned Cherokee Industrial Park. There are roughly 15 acres remaining for development in the county's Watauga Industrial Park on State Route 91.
   While some areas of property under review might not lie within the city's corporate boundaries, the city would enjoy ancillary benefits from the community's growth of jobs and commercial development, Stahl said.
   "The city may not benefit directly in tax revenues, but we will in terms of employment and residential base as well," he said. "If you can assure jobs are here within the county, people will more often than not choose to live near where they work."
   The council is scheduled to consider adopting the 2004-2005 city budget proposal on second reading. The city's fiscal year 2005 general fund budget comes in at $11.9 million - a 5.4 percent increase over the current year.
   A separate ordinance up for adoption on second reading will set the city's property tax rate unchanged at $2.30 per $100 of assessed value. The budget does not include an increase in the city's property tax rate or water and sewer rate schedule. The general fund hike accommodates increased group insurance and other fixed costs. The council voted in May to pass the ordinances on first reading.
   Council members will also consider entering the city into a contract with the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department for a $290,500 Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) to fund relocation of the Hampton Spring water transmission line. The 16-inch water line lies encased in concrete extending over the abandoned U.S. Highway 19E bridge that crosses the Doe River.
   City Council will also consider a separate contract with the First Tennessee Developmental District for technical support and administrative support in connection with the relocation project. That contract is not to exceed $15,000.
   Total cost for replacing the line is estimated at $350,000 with the city government required to come up with $59,500 to match the CDBG funding. The new transmission line will be placed into the Doe River through a trench-cut method. Relocation of the line is expected to begin later this year.
   The city received the grant after Gov. Phil Bredesen designated the line replacement as an "imminent threat" to the city's water supply. The county's Flood of 1998 destroyed a 14-inch water transmission line that was located on the bed of the Doe River. The city constructed the existing water line to restore water service following the flood.