By Bethany Anderson
The Town of Mountain City Board of Alderman held a public Work Session, during which the board unanimously approved two package store applications.
Alderman, Bob Morrison at their previous meeting on August 6, requested the work session so that the board may more thoroughly review the applications and proposed locations.
The two applications considered were from Johnson County local, Tom Stanley, and Florida native Robert Blackwell.
Stanley’s proposed location is a building on South Shady Street in Mountain City that formerly housed a skating rink.
Blackwell’s proposed location is in the Pioneer Shopping Center between Pablano’s Restaurant and Fred’s.
Both applications were granted with a unanimous vote, with the stipulation that they pass their upcoming building inspections and are deemed “insurable.”
Before starting, the board acknowledging that City Attorney George Write was momentarily absent and would be joining the meeting later. Then the meeting officially started with Mayor Kevin Parsons explaining to those present that this was a “Work Session” requested at the previous City Council meeting to go over the package store applicants.
Morrison spoke first asking, “Is there any problem with the applications submitted?”
Parsons replied, “I think we just need to make sure that they both meet the qualifications.”
Alderman Jerry Jordon added, “I know that one of them didn’t meet the set-back requirement.”
City Recorder Sheila Shaw replied, “That was discussed at the Planning Commission meeting, and it was decided that it would be ‘grandfathered’ in.”
There was more discussion about the fact that existing buildings are considered “grandfathered” in to be exempt from the town’s regulations as to how far from the road buildings are to be set back. Then conversation quickly shifted to the inspection status of the building that formerly housed a skating rink and is now owned by Tom Stanley.
Vice-Mayor Bud Crosswhite stated, “We had that building inspected, and it wasn’t structurally sound.”
Stanley replied, “Since we’ve owned the property for the last eight months, we’ve addressed those issues.” He also added, “The issues reported either have been corrected or are in the process of being corrected.”
After brief discussions among the board as to if anyone else had any concerns or questions, Mayor Parsons called an end to the Work-Study. He then called to order and reconvened their previous City Council meeting from August 6, to make the final decision as to whether or not to grant the submitted permits for package stores.
There was then the mention of previous discussions as to whether or not both permits would be granted or just one. To which Alderman Lawrence Keeble stated, “I think that we have two permits to give, and competition is good for the soul.”
Alderman Morrison said, “I agree and would make a motion to pass this.”
After some brief discussions about the fact that the City Attorney was not yet present, the board moved forward, and both applications were granted with a unanimous vote.
Mayor Parsons then acknowledged that most present to observe the meeting was probably there to hear that decision, so he explained that since a decision had been made, they might feel free to go at that time if they wished. Most present, including the applicants and their attorneys and supporters, chose to step outside.
City Attorney George Wright then entered and joined the meeting in progress. At that time, the applicants hurriedly re-entered the building and took their seats to listen in.
Wright took his place with the board and joined the meeting in progress. He then said, “2 Sisters is ready to go, but Mr. Stanley has that building that I was told was uninsurable.”
Vice-Mayor Crosswhite then explained, “Well, we’ve already issued it to him.”
Wright replied, “Well, so long as he brings everything up to code then.” Adding, “The city doesn’t have a licensed inspector though, so you’ll have to get someone in here to do that.”
Blackwell (applicant of the proposed “2 Sisters” package store) then asked, “So we aren’t going to get our permit until we’re inspected?”
Shaw replied, “According to the ordinance, no.”
There was much discussion as to whether that would require a city inspector to approve any changes. But it was mentioned that Jesse Compton (who is listed as “Building Inspector” on the town government’s website) is not yet a licensed inspector, so the town would need to bring in an outside inspector who is licensed.
Blackwell then asked, “So, I can’t just have Jesse do it?”
Crosswhite stated, “I’d rather not use Jesse,” adding, “Someone might make a claim that we passed or failed someone for personal reasons.”
Wright then said, “We don’t have a certified inspector in town, so we’d have
to bring someone from
Carter County or someplace else.”
The issue was discussed further, and Wright then clarified that the permits were granted, but with the stipulation that they pass their
upcoming building inspections and are deemed “insurable.”
Blackwell stated, “We’re just very happy to move forward and very grateful to the city.”