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City Council Session Recap – June 2nd

 

City of ClarksvilleClarksville, TN – The council met in its usual first of the month meeting Thursday night, May 2nd.

Several items of interest were on the agenda.

Oowwee Doggie II

The ordinance (81) that outlaws the selling of animals along the roadside or parking lots within the city limits was approved in the consent agenda. So there was not an official vote count as that is usually handled by voice vote.  However, I believe one council member requested the record show a no vote for him.  I was in favor.

The ordinance (82) that would require that anyone that breeds animals (dogs/cats) within the city limits for compensation to purchase a  $250.00 license is now law.  This topic was beat to death again in this meeting.  Animal groups both for and against addressed the council.

Animal breeding will not be allowed in city residential areas when done for compensation under the new law.  This residential stipulation was already in the zoning codes but this law will help re-enforce the concept. Land zoned for farm (AG) use or C5 (commercial) will allow for breeding.  A couple of other commercial zonings categories can allow for breeding upon a variance approval.  If someone breeds an animal for their own use, to have another pet(s) or where there was an “accident” and they give away the offspring, then no license is required.

This ordinance passed in an 8-yes & 4-no vote.  I voted yes.  It was interesting that two animal groups were the main involved parties.  One was the Humane Society who was in favor and the opposing group was the dog show supporters.

Second Hand Store Ordinance

Ordinance (97) was a slight update of laws on the books.  It deals with the recording and tracking of items that would be sold in functions such as flea markets.  This raised considerable concern with such vendors.  While this law has been on the books for a while, it appears that many may not have been doing this and saw it as a new law.

As this was the first time many on the council had been involved with this law (including me) it raised a number of questions with what had been on the “books” and basically copied to the updated ordinance.  With so many questions from the council and vendors alike, the decision was to send it back to the safety committee to have the police, committee and vendors to work out questions and provide information as to the concerns that each party sees.

Resolution 74 – Marina Facility

This resolution would authorize the termination of the lease agreement and approving a settlement with Greg Batts for construction and operation of a marina docks and facilities.

This has come about due to the inability of Mr. Batts to fully secure complete financing for his marina facility. This issue is primarily due to the change in the financial climate in the over three years since the marina was proposed and potential marina operators were reviewed. Mr. Batts owns and operates a very successful marina and recreation area in Kentucky.

While Mr. Batts has, by contract, until the end of the year in which to build a marina, it appears the banking financial situation for additional construction loans will not improve within the foreseeable future, which leaves both the city and Mr. Batts in limbo.  While a few details need to be worked out, it appears both the city and Mr. Batts will terminate the contract. With this termination neither side will claim any damages against the other now or in the future.

The resolution was approved by a 10-yes & 1-no vote.  One councilman had to leave before this last item was voted on, thus the absence of a vote. I voted yes. Councilman Harris was the “no” vote.

The city has spent about $360,000 on marina facility (this is separate from the building the marina basin which the city owns) items that were to be reimbursed by the marina operator. The reason for this was the construction crews for the park and marina basin were already on site and it was a time and cost savings consideration to have this particular work done at this time versus being done at a later date and a separate contract by the marina operator. It is the plan of the city that when it reopens the opportunity for other interested marina builders and operators to vie for this business opportunity at our basin, they will reimburse the city for this cost as part of any new contract proposal. Thus, the city will lose little, if any, of the money it fronted for the marina facility.

Councilman Harris seemed to think this was not a good settlement (which has been explained by the city legal staff and project staff several times as being a fair option) and seemed to argue that the city had built the marina basin specifically for Mr. Batts, thus he owed the city. This is not the case. The city built the marina basin which it will always own, and the marina facility was ALWAYS to be built, owned and operated by a private company, which would pay rent and an amount of the sales proceeds of the marina to the city. If Mr. Batts is not able to build and operate a marina in our basin, then someone else with the financial resources will be selected to do it. Harris seemed to allude that we should sue. Legal advisers have pointed out that this will cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and possible tie up the project for years and it would not be a “slam-dunk” that the city would win. It must be remembered, as I previously mentioned, that the financial climate changed a great deal in the last three years and weather has delayed the marina project for more than a year. All of this did not help Mr. Batts in his scheduling, planning and development needs. There is also the investment of his time and money to try and get the project going. Therefore, both sides have points for and against their potential claims.

Even the few other council member opponents of the marina commented that this agreement is an appropriate settlement which would avoid a legal blood bath that would accomplish little and not allow each side to move on.  With the exception of Harris, all other council members want to move on and get a marina facility built.

Councilman Burkhart supported the agreement but spoke that the marina and park project was costing $40-$50 million dollars. This is incorrect as it was restated to all council members only two weeks ago that the project is still within its $32 million construction budget. The city only pays as construction deadlines or completions points are accomplished.  If the legal agreement is made, as expected, action to identify a new marina builder and operator will begin almost immediately with the expectation that a marina will be open for business by Memorial Day of 2012.  The bottom line to all of this is a marina facility opening has been delayed again, nothing more. That has no affect on the marina basin or any actions affecting the completion of the basin.

You may have seen that the boat ramps at the new marina were opened this past weekend and will be opened on weekends for boaters to use.  Visits by myself and other council members over the holiday period showed an outstanding turnout in folks using the ramps. Up to four lanes can be used to launch boats with floating docks attached at the end of the ramps so boaters can tie up their boats, relocate their vehicles and trailers and load their families safely and easily.  Once docking facilities, a store and fueling facilities are opened I believe that area will be a very busy place for summer fun.


About Bill Summers

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