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Council OK's bill requiring grant approval

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The resolution’s language focused on the city “facing difficult economic circumstances” and keeping a tight hold on how money is spent in the future. Warmath and other councilors said that before grants are applied for, they want to be sure funds are available if the city is required to provide a monetary match.

“There’s not going to be many out there that you don’t have to pay for,” Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler pointed out.

Buhler also noted that grants have a large time frame for application, and there’s no rush to move on them without first getting council approval. He said most State and Federal grants aren’t made available on short notice.

Warmath expressed concern that commitments to grants usually bring costs to the city later on in maintenance and other aspects that may not be covered by the grant. She also made it clear the resolution does not stop the Mayor or department heads from seeking grants.

“This is not to stop that,” Warmath said. “If I can’t see it coming, I can’t adequately prepare for it.”

Councilors asked for notification about grant applications and simply wanted the intent to apply for grants brought before them before the money is pursued. Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead felt that would “bog down” many council meetings.

“Leave me a little flexibility to go after some of these, especially ones that don’t have monetary consequence,” Craighead asked. He promised to work better with the council in keeping them well-informed about applications for grants and his intent to seek those grants.

The resolution brought up an issue that was debated heavily in the council last year when Craighead pursued a grant after the council had voted no on an ordinance that pertained to pursuing the grant.

In August 2010, Craighead submitted an application for a $200,000 grant to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for a park that would be located on South Hartmann Drive.

On Aug. 11, the council voted down the resolution 4-2 and Craighead submitted the application anyway on Aug. 13 after he was told the grant did not require council approval according to state law because of its fast track nature.

Buhler made specific reference to that instance during Tuesday night’s meeting and expressed his support for the resolution to require council approval on all grant applications.

“You’ve got me tied down, just leave me one hand loose,” Craighead said. When the vote came up 4-0 in favor of the resolution, Craighead added, “If I could vote, it would be no,” indicating his displeasure with the council’s decision.

Also during the meeting, the council unanimously approved a resolution to change Critical Lot requirements and an ordinance that would incorporate requirements for Stormwater Detention to the Stormwater Management Policies and Procedures Manual.

The Planning Commission adopted more stringent requirements and standards for development of Critical Lots to protect homeowners from problems that could arise due to development of these lots and to keep their development from negatively impacting existing neighborhoods.

The amendment is part of the Planning Department’s Subdivision Regulations and prevents land that is deemed unsuitable for residential occupancy for development. The document deems lots critical when it “contains natural or manmade features that affect the feasibility of construction.”

The ordinance related to Stormwater Detention was unanimously approved as part of the Lebanon Municipal Code and is connected to the critical lot resolution that was approved earlier in the meeting.

The ordinance requires developers to build detention systems to prevent water discharge from the property onto others as a result of the development, in the event of a heavy rain or flood.

Lebanon City Engineer Chuck Boyett said that detention works to make the discharge of water on a developed plot of land less than the discharge that occurred on the same plot before it was developed.

“You either do it (build the detention system), or you justify why it’s not needed,” said Jeff Baines, commissioner of Public Works.

Some councilors asked if the city still allows development in the floodplain, which has been an issue since the May 2010 floods. Buhler remarked that they still allow it, but need to end the practice.

“I think we have good requirements and we enforce them really well,” Baines said, referring to developments in the floodplain.

All other ordinances and resolutions were passed unanimously with little discussion or debate. Council will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., with a work session to be held prior to the meeting at 5 p.m. with discussion about moving to a City Manager form of government.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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