CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A delayed decision by the Bradley County Commission on whether to accept the 2035 Joint Strategic Growth Plan is a step in the right direction, members of the tea party said Tuesday.
Five county commissioners accepted invitations to speak to the Tea Party of Bradley County’s meeting Tuesday to explain their vote.
The strategic plan was funded by the Cleveland, Bradley County and Charleston local governments along with utility companies and the local Chamber of Commerce. The consulting firm McBride, Dale and Clarion released the report in December 2010 for local government approval.
The Bradley County Commission delayed accepting the growth plan in favor of getting more information.
“Last night was a step in the right direction,” Bradley County Tea Party organizer Donny Harwood said Tuesday at the party meeting.
Tea party members link the 2035 plan to the United Nations’ Agenda 21, an international, nonbinding policy to promote sustainable development. Local tea party members say the 2035 plan, complying with Agenda 21, could cost local governments billions, not millions, of dollars over 20 years and force rural residents to move into city areas.
“Agenda 21 is real, guys,” Harwood told the meeting.
County Commissioners Ed Elkins, Jeff Yarber, Bill Winters, Adam Lowe and Mel Griffith spoke at the meeting about their stands on the 2035 plan and possible property tax increases. Empty chairs around the front of the room had names of the city council, other commissioners and the Cleveland and Bradley County mayors.
“A lot of the issues you are concerned about, a conservative local government, are my concerns as well,” said Yarber. He said he can never say never to a tax increase, but will not vote for one this year.
“At the present time most economic development takes place in the county,” said Griffith. “Which makes sense. There’s more room.”
But he said the 2035 plan would restructure growth to bring more people into the city.
Before asking for more tax revenue, Lowe said, the school system should first ask the philanthropic community.
Elkins said he is concerned about the $17.5 million the county borrowed last year and is paying only interest until 2022.
Winters was the only commissioner present Tuesday who voted Monday to accept the 2035 plan. He said the plan keeps local jurisdiction.
Although he is concerned too about future federal government directions, Winters said he has confidence in the local people who made up the 2035 Strategic Growth Task Force.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...