Land purchase coming for Bradley County industrial park

Land purchase coming for Bradley County industrial park

December 23rd, 2012 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Bradley County Commissioner Connie Wilson

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The proposed Spring Branch Industrial Park will receive a major boost with the expected acquisition of a 330-acre piece of land in southern Bradley County by year's end.

The property -- located southeast of exit 20 on Interstate 75 -- will be purchased from Jones Lakeland LLC for $5 million by a joint venture funded by Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities and Bradley County. The three entities have contributed $2 million each to the project, which also has required funding for environmental and cultural impact studies.

"The loan process has been completed," said Doug Berry, vice president for economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. "We expect the purchase to be finalized by Dec. 28."

The next step is design, Berry said. Project documents estimate infrastructure, such as water, sewer and an access road, will cost about $6 million.

Meanwhile, supporting road projects are in the works to ensure optimal accessibility to I-75.

An interstate connector that will give the park access to APD-40 and I-75, dubbed Cherokee Gateway South, is almost complete, said Jonathan Jobe, director of development and engineering for Cleveland.

Major improvements also are planned for exit 20. Bids for the interchange overhaul are expected to go out early next year, Berry said. That work is expected to be finished in 2014.

The new industrial park is in an ideal location for satellite businesses providing supplies or services to anchor companies such as Volkswagen or Wacker Polysilicon, economic officials said.

The project has drawn opposition from some in the nearby McDonald community. Residents worry about stormwater runoff to Brymer Creek and congestion and damage to local roads from commercial transportation and heavier traffic.

The project planners have agreed to put buffers around building sites within the park. Traffic-calming measures, a truck turnaround and a three-axle limit on vehicles will be implemented for road safety.

The project has not received full support from the Bradley County Commission, either.

Earlier this month, Commissioners Connie Wilson and Mel Griffith cast votes opposing involvement in the proposed park. Wilson said she had concerns about the government getting into the industrial development business.

Other commissioners vocally supported the project.

"Are we going to invest in future industry here and have growth so we don't have to increase taxes, or are we going to tell industry we're not interested in you coming here?" asked Commissioner Jeff Morelock.