In the first voting session of the new city council of 2009, there are issues of public financial disclosure and procedural progress that raise questions of concern. The first executive session of the new council revealed instances of disturbing lack of information sharing at play within the members. Public confidence is eroded when all elected voices are not given equal, full access to needed information upon which informed decision-making is to be based.
The first executive session of the city council for 2009 focused on zoning change requests to be heard at the Thursday voting session. Several items were withdrawn from the agenda and will not be considered at that time.
An ordinance affecting modification of the city’s travel easement regulation was presented. A PowerPoint presentation demonstrated how the modification would affect commercial property development. Discussion included consideration of ADA compliance requirements. The proposal was deferred to allow the Planning Commission to make further revisions.
A final action to be considered is the marina lease agreement between the city and proposed marina developer/operator Greg Batts. The lease is required by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the city’s permit application. Modifications to the lease agreement apparently will not be delivered to all council members until sometime today, January 7, with the vote to be taken at Thursday’s meeting (1.8.09). Mayor Piper noted that council members have had the lease agreement for more than 30 days and should be familiar with its contents by now. However the modifications from the council’s last special call session have not been formalized as of the executive session. Some council members, following the conclusion of the meeting, expressed reservation at having so little time to review the document prior to being asked to vote on its approval.
In further development, it was learned that the city has taken on a total of $36 million dollars of debt in the fairgrounds marina redevelopment project. The council approved three resolutions approving $32, 324,000 dollars of new leveraged debt to fund the project. Council members explained that bond issues attached to the project’s leveraged debt bonds raised the total debt level to $36 million dollars.
According to official US Army Corps of Engineers communication, the city’s application is on hold, pending receipt of all the required information and documents that comprise a complete application. This includes proof of purchase and ownership of land to be used in the wetlands mitigation requirement to offset the wetlands to be lost at the marina excavation site. A public notice will be issued when the application is favorably reviewed for completion.
“According the USACOE, the permit process for the Clarksville Marina Fairgrounds Redevelopment Project- Upon receipt of a complete application:
- an application review will be conducted
- a public notice will be issued and public comment period would be declared where public questions, objections and concerns will be studied.
- Following the resolution of the public comment and issues, an environmental assessment will have to be conducted and any issues and concerns resulting from that analysis would have to be resolved.
- The USACOE would then consider issuing a permit.’”
The city is also required to get permit approval from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. As of Friday, January 2nd, no application was on file and a review of their permit listing showed no such permit had been issued.