KIMBALL, Tenn. — An informal proposal that Jasper Highlands developer John "Thunder" Thornton made recently to Mayor David Jackson has irritated some city leaders.
Jackson said he met with Thornton and Thunder Enterprises employee Greg Roach on April 23, and the developer proposed paying 25 percent of the cost to repair damage to the portion of Timber Ridge Road inside the city limits.
The road's condition has deteriorated over the years because of the mountaintop development, Jackson said.
"I informed Mr. Thornton that we would not be interested in that," he said. "I thought I made it pretty clear. I don't usually speak for the board, but I felt like I could speak for them that day because we've had this discussion previously."
The meeting was "a nice visit" in the mayor's office, Thornton said, but Jackson told him he didn't know if 25 percent would be fair, and that the matter would have to be presented before the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Thornton said no private citizen or company ever has offered pay part of the costs to fix or pave a city road.
"The road was in bad shape when we started running trucks and cars up it about two and a half years ago," he said. "A lot of rock trucks have been running on that road long before we ever bought them out."
Jackson said Thornton verbally committed to city leaders several years ago that he would "take care" of any damage the development caused to the city road.
City officials began taking pictures of the road when the Jasper Highlands project began so they could document any damage that was caused.
"We're not going to spend city taxpayers' money to fix a road that's being damaged," Jackson said. "I think any damage that's been created by Thunder Enterprises needs to be fixed by Thunder Enterprises."
The Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to have City Attorney Billy Gouger draft a letter that would "send a resounding "no" to the proposal" when it is formally offered, if ever.
Alderman Mark Payne said the proposal is "unacceptable to the taxpayers of the town."
"I am a definite 'no' on this," he said. "We're talking about a road that doesn't lead to any resident of the Town of Kimball."
Thornton said the Jasper Highlands development is impacting Kimball in "a very positive way."
"I know we're having a good, positive effect on the tax revenue of Kimball, and I'm thrilled about that," he said. "We just want to be fair, and if there's something more that the city of Kimball would like for us to consider, I am all ears and willing to consider that."
He said his company bears "some responsibility" for the damage during "a very minor part of the road's life."
There is no definite plan to make the offer a formal proposal to the board, Thornton said.
"I just did it because I thought it was fair," he said. "[Kimball] is kind of like the front porch of our development. So, it's very important to me that we make that look as good as we can."
A formal proposal to the Marion County Commission about the repairs is a possibility, he said.
Kimball, on the other hand, has "no intention" of paying anything to repair the road, Jackson said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.