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Developers ask city permission to supply own utilities

By DAVID MELSON - dmelson@t-g.com
Posted 11/8/22

Developers proposing a large development consisting of 310 homes, fronted by a commercial strip, on Highway 231 North at Midland Road in northern Shelbyville are seeking permission to operate their …

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Developers ask city permission to supply own utilities

Developers proposing a large development consisting of 310 homes, fronted by a commercial strip, on Highway 231 North at Midland Road in northern Shelbyville are seeking permission to operate their own privately-funded independent water and sewage treatment system.
They are asking Shelbyville City Council to annex approximately 10 acres on Highway 231 North at Midland Road. The area is currently zoned low density residential, is within the city’s urban growth boundary, and the number of homes is under the allowable number, the council was told at a study session last Tuesday.
The water and sewer system would have no connection with Shelbyville’s municipal utilities and would set its own rates per Tennessee Utility Commission rules, a representative of the developer said.
“The environmental benefit of a community system is that it is operated by a certified sewer treatment operator, same as at a municipal plant,” says AquaGreen Utility Inc. of Acworth, Ga., on its website. The firm operates systems similar to the proposed Shelbyville operation across Tennessee and other states.
“The main difference with a community plant is that the very clean effluent water is applied to the soil instead of being dumped back into the drinking water supply,” the firm says, touting what it says are resulting lower operational costs.
A representative of the firm told the council the system would be largely operated by computers with few personnel required.
Waleed Albakry, Shelbyville Director of Planning and Community Development, said he considers the application “premature” and more information is needed.
Feldhaus expressed skepticism of what he termed “little utility companies” and asked why the city wouldn’t want to provide utilities to the area.
“Everywhere we are right now, we’re cheaper than the public utility,” the representative said. He was never introduced by name and left before it could be asked.
When asked where else in Tennessee the firm operates, the representative said Murfreesboro, Williamson and Wilson counties, Memphis and Johnson City. They also work with many school systems and provide utilities for the Love’s Truck Stops chain.
The developer said Bedford County Utility District confirmed it could provide adequate “fire flow.”
“We have a sewer pipe that runs through the area,” Shelbyville Public Works Director Buck Vallard said. “This would take away 300 potential city customers.”
Vallard agreed with Albakry that more discussion is needed.
Police expansion
Two new patrol officer positions for Shelbyville Police Department were unanimously approved by Shelbyville City Council at a special called meeting last Tuesday.
The department was denied a $145,000 U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant in a competitive process. That grant would have funded an additional detective and the two officers.
The plan had been to budget local money for the two officers if the grant didn’t come through, Deputy Chief Brian Crews told the council.
Average starting salary for a new officer is $45,000 per year, but City Treasurer Kay Parker estimated a starting officer’s yearly cost including full benefits package is $72,000.
At the study session later Tuesday, Crews explained the SPD is seeking additional money from the federal Violent Crime Intervention Fund.
A $245,000 grant is being applied for, which would fund two more new officers and a detective to be assigned to “directed patrols.” Crews said he feels sure Shelbyville can receive this grant.
“They would be proactive officers to go after crimes before they happen – proactive instead of reactive,” Crews said.
The department is applying for another grant with a potential of up to $2 million, Crews said. The grant must be applied for in conjunction with another agency. Crews said the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force are potential partners.
Also approved during the regular special session were two additional Dodge Durango police pursuit SUVs through a state contract, in addition to seven already budgeted. The cost of the additional units is $109,696 total, from a Columbia dealership.
Local officers are hoping the vehicles can be built and received before a manufacturer cost increase. The two vehicles and several others were actually ordered some time ago. The vehicle orders for 2022 models were cancelled by the manufacturer due to supply chain issues, and 2023 models are substantially higher.
Codes move
In discussion at the study session:
Remodeling is in progress for an upcoming move by Shelbyville’s Planning & Codes Department from City Hall into the former Chamber of Commerce building on North Cannon Boulevard, which adjoins the rear of the City Hall property, City Manager Scott Collins said.
The Chamber will retain one small office and storage area.
Changes to the building include making restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Collins said.
The move is expected by December.
The vacated City Hall space will be converted into a new City Council meeting site, Collins said.
Listening Project
Representatives of Bedford County Listening Project spoke about a proposed grievance committee composed of BCLP members, council members, landlords and renters. The comments were in followup to an August discussion.
A potential snag may have developed over confidentiality.
The BCLP wants the meetings closed to the public. City Recorder Lisa Smith said the meetings must be open to the public because involvement of any City Council member makes them public and invokes Tennessee’s Open Records Act.
The council must set the committee up their way and determine some of the members, Smith said.
Council member Henry Feldhaus liked the idea of city involvement and setting up bylaws.
A BCLP member eventually suggested eliminating any mention of privacy, agreed on keeping meetings open, and focusing on problems and solutions that come up in the proposed talks.
Council member William Christie urged waiting on naming the city’s committee members until after today’s election, allowing the new mayor and council to make the appointments. Mayor Wallace Cartwright did not seek re-election.
Decisions on the committee will be on the December council agenda. The new mayor and council will be in place at that time.
The council was urged by Feldhaus to approve the TIF (Tax Increment Funding) proposal for industrial, commercial, and residential projects, which was explained to the council (and in a T-G story) earlier.
The city-county Industrial Development Board would be the applicant and, if there is a residential component, Shelbyville Housing Authority, the council was told.
Collins suggested city staff and Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership President/CEO Shane Hooper study the proposal further and give a report in December.
A “simple resolution” saying the City of Shelbyville is in favor of industrial development will be on the council’s December agenda, Collins said.
Rezoning requests from single-to-multi-family developments were approved on second reading for areas on Green Lane, Fowler Lane, and Dover Street.
Also approved was a request for 60 acres on Nashville Dirt Road across from property widely known as the Eakin Farm and south of Living Stones Church. Shelbyville Power System noted the area cannot be served by gravity sewer and has numerous sinkholes.
Traffic lights
An application is being made for a yearly traffic signalization grant. Signals at Belmont Avenue and Depot Street, and at Depot and Thompson Streets, will be replaced and cameras added as at other city intersections if the grant is approved.
Veterans salute
City employees who are veterans will be recognized at a 5 p.m. reception Thursday before the 6 p.m. November regular meeting at Shelbyville Recreation Center.