JC-INVEST ordinance withdrawn
Mayor still to go ahead with advisory board
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 11:00 AM
The ordinance to develop a board to advise government on economic development issues in Jefferson County has been withdrawn from consideration by the City Council president.
Councilman Rick Berry announced at Tuesday's meeting that he was pulling Mayor Damon Welch's JC-INVEST board from consideration as an ordinance.
But the advisory board isn't dead. The mayor said he will invite the members who would sit on the board to meet to discuss the structure of the organization. After the structure is agreed upon, the governmental bodies would take whatever action is needed to implement the plan.
City Council members have spent the past three months debating the merits of the JC-INVEST board, with the county and Hanover occasionally offering opinions on the plan. By the end of April, the plan had stalled and a technical problem reverted the legislation back to its original form. But Welch said progress had been made.
"I think it's important to point out that after three months of dialogue, the statement I keep hearing loud and clear is 'I agree with the concept of JC-INVEST,'" Welch said.
Berry said he pulled the legislation was because it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the county and the town of Hanover apprised of all the changes that were being made.
"It gets very hard to come up with a general agreement when we're doing it by email and phone," Berry said.
The JC-INVEST board will essentially serve the mayor and will develop guidelines and bylaws for the organization. The group is expected to meet for the first time in June, but the exact time and place has not yet been determined.
The City Council also held the second reading of an ordinance that would rezone property behind the county highway garage and Madison Chemical to allow for future expansion.
While the county garage has an immediate need for expansion, Madison Chemical is reserving the land for any future use.
Stacy Barnes, a Meadow Lane resident, said that Madison Chemical should have provided some sort of idea of what it wanted to do in order to get the proposed zoning change approved.
"You typically have a plan or need and neither one of those were presented," Barnes said.
The second part of Barnes' argument was that a light-industry zoned area, which is what is being requested, would allow any number of industries to move in and build on the property.
Barnes added that this case could set a precedent. In the future, other industries could come forward and ask for a change in zoning without any plans in place and, she said, this decision would greatly impact that.
City Councilman Darrell Henderson, who also serves on the Plan Commission, disagreed.
"I personally don't think we're seeing a precedent. Every zoning request is handled differently," he said, adding that requests are often turned down if they wouldn't mix well with that area.
The proposal passed the Plan Commission by a 6-2 vote with one abstention earlier this year. The county plans to purchase the land for $22,500 for the expansion.
The City Council will hold the third reading at its next meeting, which will be May 21.
In other business, the council:
Held a public meeting on the third phase of improvements to the long-term plan that involves building two new water treatment facilities and improving the sewer systems. The meeting was to update the Council on the project's status. The plan is projected to cost at least $9.9 million and will finish by September 2015.
Henderson announced there are seven candidates for the preservation planner position who will be interviewed May 13 and 16.
Dave Stucker, parks director, announced that the city campground is now open after electrical and water repairs were made to the facility. He also said Crystal Beach Pool will open May 26.