Clarksville, TN – The city council met in its regular session Friday night. Here are the results by topic.
Barge Port: The barge point (Ordinance 14) was officially approved by tonight’s vote. Councilman Redd pulled the item for another official single vote (each ordinance has to have two vote although the second is usually done as a mass approval of the previous months agenda items). The final vote was 9-yes & 3-no votes. I voted yes as I had previously told readers I would.
Liquor Store Limits Repeal
The initial ordinance (Ordinance 28) would have repealed the current limit (which was clarified that it wasn’t 13, but 12) and allowed the free market to determine how many would be allowed. Input from Ward 10 residents was about 3 to 1 in favor of repeal. However, as soon as the ordinance came up, Councilwoman McLaughlin (the sponsor) offered an amendment to cap the number at 18. No reason was provided as to why this was a good number. As part of the amendment it was announced that the new permit owners would be chosen by lottery. The problem was the city legal staff had not had time to ensure such a method was legal. The normal method is first come, first serve. This led to red-herring statements that this could result in lawsuits and should be voted down and concern over the 18 number also was raised. The method could be validated by the second voted if need be.
I asked if we could defer this until the next council meeting to get a legal review of the proposed process. As it was an amendment, that could not be done at that time and a vote took place. I believe it was defeated by a 2-yes & 10-no vote. Since the sponsor had requested the unexpected amendment, I did vote yes.
Then we were back to the original ordinance request for total limit repeal. I then asked that it be postponed to allow the legal review mentioned in the amendment in case a higher limit was to be allowed, but not unlimited. The motion to postpone was defeated and we were back to the unlimited approach.
The final vote was then taken and the vote was 3-yes and 9-no. I voted yes as I had told readers I would. It was interesting to watch the votes come in. As readers recall Mayor McMillan changed voting procedures from a secret ballot to open voting. Voting seemed to drag a bit as council members seemed to watching how the votes came in on the board and then voted. People that seemed very positive about open competition at the executive meeting seemed to have changed their mind when it appeared that the vote was headed to defeat. So I am not sure that the 3-9 tally really represented the opinion of some council members.
It seemed the main discussion that was used to defeat the ordinance was that additional stores would increase drunk driving and social problems. A local pastor had cited to the council that the state numbers showed that we had drunk driving crashes and inferred that such stores caused the problem and we needed to stop them.
I did counter his point by citing the same data source used by the pastor and comparing it to another state source on counties that do not allow package/liquor and their alcohol related accidents. A number of those counties that do not allow package stores had close to or more alcohol related accidents than ours. What this proves is there is no correlation in liquor stores and accidents. I also mentioned that if some pastors were that against increases in locations that sell alcohol, why weren’t they at the city boards where new clubs and bars were asking for permits to open up? The police state they have many more problems with bars and clubs. It seemed no one wished to tackle those questions and counter points.
The mayor placed on the table, through council motion, to accept the marina consultant’s recommendation of selecting Campbell Tellico (the Knoxville Group) and move forward with contracts actions to get a marina built. As readers know, I have provided info and my own analysis that the Knoxville group had the better total package. The council also thought this and approved the selection by a 12-yes vote. If all goes well, a new marina should be floating in the Clarksville Marina by May 2012.
Rezoning of the Old Hospital Property
As readers know the new Publix is coming to Madison Street. However, some may not know that the old hospital also owned property just across the street (Hayes Street and Madison Street) The church next to this land had been fighting this. The zoning was to go from O-1 to C-2. It passed by a wide margin last month, but was pulled by Councilwoman Jones in an effort to defeat it on the required second vote. The rezoning was approved again by a 7-yes, 4-no and 1-abstain. I voted yes.
As you will recall, the original land site selected to place the Vet Home was turned down by the VA after considerable time and effort by the county and city to get it approved. A second site has been selected and I believe it is near the Wal-Mart on Fort Campbell Boulevard. The city and county each put in $750,000 as matches for this project. The city approved this effort at this council meeting with a 12-yes vote.
One other Item – Exit 11
Readers know I (with strong help and support of the City Street Department) have battled to get the state to recognize the traffic problem at Exit 11 and Sango Road. We finally won this battle earlier this year and the state drew up a rough plan that would fix this. However, it will cost money and we’ll have to battle for that. The traffic problem is getting worse with traffic now backing up to around 10 Mile Marker on the east bound side of I-24 to get off at Exit 11 in the evenings.
I talked with the police chief today to try and assign officers at the intersection of the ramp and MLK/Hwy76 to help get traffic off the ramp and through Sango Rd area. He will work to get some officers there to better document the problem and help us out. However, it must be understood that the time of 5:15pm to 6:15pm (when traffic is worst at the ramp) is also a very busy time for the police department for other city problems so any officer(s) assigned may have to be pulled for higher level response needs.
After the chief helps me document this issue from a police viewpoint I will meet with the mayor and police chief to ask that she meet with our local state legislators to make this issue a funding priority with the state in the upcoming legislative session staring January 2012. I will keep you posted as I work this problem. For now drive carefully in this area in the evenings. It would be very easy to be in an accident if you hurry or don’t pay close attention to your surroundings.
Editor’s Note: This article contains the view points of Councilman Bill Summers and may not represent the views of the rest of the City Council, the City of Clarksville or ClarksvilleOnline.