Cleveland hits brakes on Paul Huff Parkway extension

Cleveland hits brakes on Paul Huff Parkway extension

August 25th, 2015 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

A stalled curbing and storm drain project is seen at a development at the intersection of Paul Huff Parkway and Georgetown Road on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, in Cleveland, Tenn. Although not part of the official agenda, the Cleveland City Council was expected to vote Monday on officially acquiring right of way for the development that has already started, essentially developing private property with sidewalks, curbing and guttering. Work was recently halted

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Cleveland City Council has put a stop to the involvement of city employees and assets on a 675-foot roadway project that extends Paul Huff Parkway across Georgetown Road and onto private property.

A McDonald's restaurant and a Weigel's convenience store are in the works for the property, which is owned by developer Ron Barker, said Jonathan Jobe, director of Cleveland's Development and Engineering Services. The current roadway project is only the first phase of a plan to connect Paul Huff Parkway to Freewill Road, he said.

On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 6-0 to halt the participation of Cleveland Public Works Department personnel, equipment and materials on the property until a deed for a 60-foot right-of-way is acquired by the city.

A stalled curbing and storm drain project is seen at a development at the intersection of Paul Huff Parkway and Georgetown Road on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, in Cleveland, Tenn. Although not part of the official agenda, the Cleveland City Council was expected to vote Monday on officially acquiring right of way for the development that has already started, essentially developing private property with sidewalks, curbing and guttering. Work was recently halted

A stalled curbing and storm drain project is...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

"I don't think it's appropriate, at least appearance-wise, for the city to be working on private property to promote private development," said Councilman Richard Banks, who sponsored the measure.

"I do admit it does look like a driveway now," Jobe said.

The department's involvement in the project, which includes curbing and guttering, began on Aug. 1 but was stopped last week, said Tommy Myers, director of Cleveland's Public Works.

About $20,000 has been spent on the project, which has been budgeted at $150,000, Jobe said.

The city has been operating on the property by means of an ingress/egress easement, a practice Jobe said was used a few years ago when Cleveland extended Peerless Road across Paul Huff Parkway.

Cleveland is already benefiting from an agreement in which the developer is providing the dirt and grading, which would have cost the city more money.

The developer also "changed up his whole design to accommodate our roadway," said Jobe, stating that Barker originally planned to place a building where the new roadway stands now.

City Attorney John Kimball said he expects a quitclaim deed will resolve the right-of-way issue in a few days.

"What concerns me is that we're out there spending money on property that — at least in my understanding — is not in the city's hands," Banks said. "Do we set a precedent when we build a street into a private development and don't go through the formal process?"

Banks voiced concern that the project wasn't formally approved by the City Council during regular voting even though it was discussed in at least one strategic planning session early this year.

He also called for the city to acquire the remaining rights-of-way necessary for the Freewill Road connection.

A key piece of extension will involve property belonging to Westwood Baptist Church, Jobe said.

Design has not yet been completed for that part of the proposed roadway.

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