County Commission will vote whether to allow the ethanol facility to move forward in its Sept. 7 meeting.
Proponents who want to build an ethanol facility and pipeline in the Bonny Oaks Industrial and Office Park ran into Commissioner Tim Boyd's buzz saw Thursday when they appeared before the Hamilton County Commission.
Englewood Enterprises announced plans in March to build a facility that would remove ethanol from rail cars and pump it through a pipeline to nearby fuel terminals. There it would be mixed with gasoline and distributed to consumers.
Since then, the "story" about what the county would need to do to accommodate the facility has been changing, Boyd said in the commission's agenda session.
"This is the problem with this entire project," Boyd said. "It's a moving target."
Englewood Enterprises has a contract with the owner of the last undeveloped lot in the county's Bonny Oaks park. Under covenants for the park, county rules allow commissioners to oversee the sale of the property.
Early in Thursday's session, Boyd asked county Real Property Manager Paul Parker about the procedure for selling the property.
"The first order of business is for the owner to come before the County Commission and ask permission for that sale," Parker said.
Boyd then asked if representatives for property owner JDK Real Estate were present, and an Englewood Enterprises attorney said they were not.
Boyd's frustration was evident, and he made a motion that the matter not be placed on the Sept. 7 meeting agenda.
Englewood Enterprises attorney Allison Bickerstaff responded, "I think we're here on their [JDK'S] behalf."
Boyd took issue with the statement.
"I clearly asked your associate," Boyd said. "Now you're changing your story."
Boyd said he thought continuing with the matter would be "kind of getting the cart before the horse here."
Chairman Larry Henry asked for Bickerstaff's team to continue their presentation and said commissioners had a week to determine whether to defer or deny the measure.
Commissioner Joe Graham also asked a question about property values in the park.
"I'm not for it or against it," Graham said of the project. "I'm just trying to do my homework."
The resolution was placed on the Sept. 7 agenda. The vote will determine if there is consensus on whether the project should move forward, said David Norton, assistant county attorney.
If the resolution passes, commissioners then would have to vote to approve the sale price of $399,500 for the property.
Commissioners also would have to decide whether to grant property rights to about 100 feet of county land so the pipeline could access a CSX railroad right of way.
Lake Hills resident Sue Powell and a representative of Mac Papers, which owns property in the park, asked commissioners to oppose the project.
Another county requirement for the project is that it meet Chattanooga's zoning code.
The site is zoned for light manufacturing so the City Council would have to approve either a zoning change or special-use permit before the project can progress.