published Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Bradley County defers support for industrial park

By Paul Leach/Correspondent

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Commission again this week stopped short of offering support to a proposed joint industrial development venture with the city of Cleveland and Cleveland Utilities.

By an 8-6 vote, commissioners on Tuesday agreed to defer a resolution supporting the Spring Branch Industrial Park to the next work session.

Several residents of McDonald and the area surrounding the proposed industrial park site voiced fears over the project's impact on the environment and traffic.

They said they feared Brymer Creek would suffer from excess storm water and that their roads could be turned into major thoroughfares.

McDonald simply could cease to exist as they know it now, resident Matt Bentley said.

"I feel that both sides have merit in this discussion on whether we should or shouldn't do this industrial park," Commissioner Adam Lowe said after the vote.

Lowe said corporate investment opportunities help keep employment healthy and taxes low, but the community needed to fully understand the cost and benefits of such development.

Lowe voted for the deferral along with Commissioners Bill Ledford, Jeff Yarber, Mel Griffith, Ed Elkins, Brian Smith, Cliff Eason and Terry Cawood. They were opposed by Chairman Louie Alford, Vice Chairman Mark Hall, and Commissioners Robert Rominger, Bill Winters, Connie Wilson and Jeff Morelock.

The resolution would require the county to pitch in one-third of the industrial park's $6 million startup costs along with the city and Cleveland Utilities.

The startup costs include the purchase of 343 acres near exit 20 off Interstate 75 plus geological and environmental studies, according to Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

Berry said the new industrial park could cost as much as $12 million. But costs after the initial $6 million could be funded through money generated by the park's industrial occupants and plus federal or state grants.

Target businesses include automotive and solar industry manufacturers that would support existing anchors such as Volkswagen and Wacker, according to Berry.

The Bradley County Commission meets in a work session on Monday.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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