published Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Bradley County to launch three new fire stations

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County is moving forward with programs intended to improve road development on state Route 60 and to launch three new fire stations.

On Monday, the County Commission voted 14-0 to adopt a corridor management agreement that will create a framework for local government and state agencies to better coordinate their objectives for state Route 60, from the Georgia state line to the Hopewell community.

The pilot program, introduced by the Tennessee Department of Transportation two months ago, will help local and state planners "to work collaboratively" on development of the highway, Bradley Commissioner Bill Winters said.

"This pilot program will give us input," he said. "If we move away from this, we're going to move away from coordination with the state as well as the funding."

Despite the unanimous vote approving adoption of the corridor management agreement, several commissioners have voiced concerns about the program since it was presented to them in July. Some questioned if the agreement meant the forfeiture of local authority over land use along the highway.

"I don't want the commission to give away any authority they currently have over being able to have a final say in any zoning, rezoning or land-use plan," Commissioner Ed Elkins said.

The pilot agreement does not take away the county's authority on land use, Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said. However, she said, it does commit the county to developing a land-use plan.

"There is nothing in this wording [of the agreement] that hands over authority, but I think the message is pretty clear," Commissioner Adam Lowe said. "When it comes time to do what they [the state] want to do, there's going to be some duress to yield with regards to these elements and what they [state officials] want them to be."

State Route 60, especially in regard to where it encompasses Georgetown Pike in western Bradley County, has received a lot of attention lately from county commissioners and planners because of heavy traffic congestion. Commissioners Terry Caywood and Elkins have said the area between Cleveland Middle and Hopewell Elementary schools represents a major safety problem.

In other business, the Bradley County Commission voted 14-0 to fund $2 million in new, fully equipped firetrucks for Bradley County Fire & Rescue.

The trucks are destined for service at three proposed fire stations at Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road.

It will take the manufacturer six months to build the trucks, fire officials said. The time and money saved by letting the manufacturer build in necessary add-ons such as thermal cameras and air tanks will help Fire & Rescue make its June operational date for the new fire stations, they said.

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

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