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Mandatory sidewalks coming to MJ

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MT. JULIET -- Mt. Juliet City Commission passed the first reading Monday night of an ordinance that will require all commercial and multifamily developments to build sidewalks, both within the developments and along the streets around their exteriors.

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles said he had heard some developers complaining about building sidewalks.

“My response is, ‘If you don’t want to put in sidewalks, don’t buy the property,’” Giles said.

The ordinance originally included a section that would have made property owners responsible for the repair and maintenance of sidewalks at the edge of their property, but the commission voted to cut that section of the ordinance.

Planning Director Bo Logan was asked to bring that proposal back as a separate issue. He and City Attorney Gino Marchetti told the commissioners that any other cities they have researched require property owners to be responsible for the repair and maintenance of sidewalks.

The commissioners also passed, on first reading, an ordinance changing the zoning of 80.7 acres on Beckwith Road owned by Jack Lowery, from office professional services (OPS) to industrial restrictive (IR). However, they told Caleb Stone, the owner’s representative, that they would place restrictions on how the property can be used.

District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice and Mayor Ed Hagerty both expressed concerns about approving the zone change with no plan of use for the property. But Logan pointed out that there is no Planned Unit Development (PUD) for industrial developments.

“The PUD is only required in commercial and residential developments,” he said.

Marchetti told the commissioners they could place specific restrictions on the use of the property, and he agreed to rewrite the ordinance before second reading to reflect their concerns.

The commissioners also discussed a proposed agreement between the city and the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency (WEMA), but deferred action to allow Fire Chief Erron Kinney and Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Luffman to meet with WEMA Director Joey Cooper to iron out details.

The commissioners were concerned about several stipulations in the agreement regarding which agency should provide which services and what territories they would cover.

 “We’ve gone to great lengths to establish a city fire department,” Justice said, “and I don’t want Mt. Juliet Fire Department leaving the city. I don’t want automatic aid.”

Luffman said the agreement wouldn’t involve sending the entire department, only a single company.

Luffman added that he wants some changes to the sections that seem to say WEMA firefighters at the shared fire hall on Hill Street would not go out to fires in the city.

“If you’re in our fire hall, I think you should fight fires with us,” he said.

When Bradshaw talked about wanting the WEMA firefighters to act as first responders in the north sections of the city, Luffman said that has not really been a problem.

“In the 7 months we’ve been in service, there have been 81 situations when we had more than one call at the same time, and we’ve answered them all,” he said.

The commissioners also finished taking action on two spending items that they had already approved on first reading in February, which they now approved on second reading.

The first item was to appropriate $350,000 to purchase the McCorkle-Eakes property fronting North Mt. Juliet Road. The price is approximately twice what the city would have had to pay in damages caused by the widening of North Mt. Juliet Road. 

City Manager Kenny Martin told the commission the property would be combined with the old Sellars Funeral Home property, which the city already owns, and offered for sale as a bundle.

The second item was approving $28,000 for a design study of a dual right-turn lane from Providence Way onto northbound South Mt. Juliet Road.

In other action, the commissioners voted, on first reading:

To appropriate $90,000 for the construction of railroad crossing improvements to support the completion of the Town Center Trail.

To adopt an ordinance to control cell towers within the city limits. The ordinance calls for a setback equal to 1.5 times the height of the tower. Also, the towers must be attractively disguised to look like utility poles or part of a tree.

Additionally, the commissioners resolved:

To amend an agreement with Gresham Smith and Partners to complete design and construction documents for the Eastern Connector Project.

To authorize an agreement with Scott and Ritter Inc. for construction of improvements to the Nonaville Road sewer pump station.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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Mt. Juliet City Commission, sidewalks
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