During Monday’s meeting of the Bradley County Commission, local resident Lisa Stanbery said she was there to represent a woman who had purchased land in 1974 with the understanding she would be able to build on it.
Stanbery explained the land had been plotted two years prior, but the road adjoining the property is not currently on the county road list. Because of the rule stating a property must have frontage along a road for a house to be built there, a building permit was denied.
She held up photos showing a path paved with a concrete road base and drainage system alongside it, indicating the county had done work on it at one time.
Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said it was another example of a mistake the county made in the past. She said roads like the one being presented should be retroactively adopted as county roads.
On Dec. 2, 2013, the Commission voted to accept Roumelia Lane as a county road after it was found to not have been accepted with other nearby roads back in the 1980s. The request came after the property owner was denied a building permit because the road on which her property stood was not a county road.
Since then, more such situations have come to light.
During the most recent meeting of the Bradley County Road Committee members heard three requests for new roads to be accepted, and Committee Chairman Mel Griffith said they would likely be referred to the county’s finance committee closer to the start of the new fiscal year.
“We have got to find a way to fix it,” Commissioner Terry Caywood said of the road issue.
He added he would have been upset if he had been in the same position as those property owners and pointed out that lots without houses built on them drew fewer property tax revenues into the county’s coffers.
Peak-Jones said the county might want to consider seeing if it could be allowed to make exceptions to building permit rules in such situations.
After a fellow commissioner asked him who was responsible for the oversight back in the 1980s, Griffith said the county road superintendent likely failed to present the road list additions to the County Commission.
However, County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said it was also possible the developers of the properties did not give the proper information to the road superintendent.
Stanbery’s request that a road be added to the county road list will be discussed at its next voting session agenda.
Peak-Jones also gave an update on how the SPCA of Bradley County has been doing. She is one of two commissioners on the board of the organization that will be handling animal control services for county residents who live outside Cleveland city limits beginning in March.
She said the nonprofit has raised $10,000 through its fundraising campaign as it works to renovate county-owned buildings into an animal shelter complex. The SPCA has also applied for a $25,000 grant.
Prior to that, the Commission recognized Cleveland State Community College’s president as being in attendance. Dr. Bill Seymour, who recently completed his fifth week on the job, introduced himself and spoke of his thoughts on the importance of community colleges.
He said he did not think they could be “any more relevant than they are today.
A commissioner asked him his thoughts on Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise proposal. Seymour said it would allow many students to attend community college for free as part of a “last dollar” funding model, meaning that it would cover what other scholarships and grants might not.
“If the proposal goes through, everyone will have the opportunity, regardless of cost,” he said.
Commissioner Adam Lowe, who also serves as the Cleveland State’s director of institutional advancement, said the community college was seen as being especially important when considering companies like Wacker beginning their work in the county. Jobs need workers who know how to do them, he asserted.
Seymour said workforce development has continued to be a big focus for the college.