published Friday, January 29th, 2010

County strikes compromise on Signal school property


by Matt Wilson
Audio clip

Commissioin meeting

Hamilton County commissioners seemed agreeable Thursday to a compromise on a plan to develop the old Signal Mountain Middle School into an athletic center.

"Any compromise is not going to be what you exactly want, but at least it is moving in the right direction," Commissioner Larry Henry said.

In October, Tom Poteet, who had offered $800,000 and two pieces of land near Soddy-Daisy High School for the Signal Mountain property, sued the county over a move to put zoning restrictions to which he previously had agreed into the deed.

Mr. Poteet said he would withdraw that lawsuit based on an agreement worked out with Commissioner Richard Casavant, who represents Signal Mountain.

Under the agreement, the restrictions would remain in the deed, but they would be lifted after five years if Mr. Poteet dies or if the zoning reverts back to residential, whichever comes first.

The commission will vote Wednesday whether to approve the agreement.

IF YOU GO

* What: Hamilton County Commission vote on Signal Mountain Middle School property

* When: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday

* Where: Hamilton County Courthouse, 625 Georgia Ave., fourth floor

Dr. Casavant said he is "happy that it's settled." The agreement would be final once the town of Signal Mountain votes to rezone the property from residential to community commercial, he said.

In July, Dr. Casavant argued against selling the property to Mr. Poteet, the sole bidder, saying the property was worth more than the athletic club owner was offering. He also questioned whether the proposed athletic center could succeed financially.

Dr. Casavant said Thursday he still believes the project to be "not so much a business venture as something altruistic."

Mr. Poteet has said he has "personally done the due diligence" and believes the center will make money.

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