SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Residents who live in the area around a recently completed multimillion-dollar expansion of Lodge Manufacturing Company have been complaining about the sometimes limited access to their homes since the project began in 2016.
At the South Pittsburg City Commission's April meeting, one resident said she's waited long enough for Ash Avenue, which runs parallel to U.S. Highway 72 behind the industrial area in downtown South Pittsburg, to reopen.
"It's been six or seven months since Lodge has opened up [its new addition]," the resident said. "I've been patient. I need my road opened up."
City Administrator Gene Vess said the problem with that was an ordinance was passed in 2016 to abandon the town's rights to the road.
Mayor Virgil Holder said that wasn't accurate because the ordinance was never fully approved.
"You had a first reading that was in November 2016, and in December 2016, it was passed [over] and dropped with no further action," he said.
"OK, then open it up," Vess replied.
In November 2016, former City Administrator Sammy Burrows said that the latest survey on record indicates the road actually belongs to Lodge, and the only reason the city was involved in the decision at all was because Ash Avenue had been "established for so long."
South Pittsburg's planning commission recommended closing the road permanently in June 2016.
Henry Lodge, president at Lodge Manufacturing Company, said in 2016 that the "infrequently traveled" road would need to be closed during construction for safety reasons, but that his company was "willing to do whatever the city wishes on that property."
Holder said the South Pittsburg Board of Water Works and Sewers paved a portion of the road recently, but most of Ash Avenue has remained untouched since the expansion project was completed.
Lodge Manufacturing was supposed to repave the road once construction on the addition was complete, he said.
"That was the agreement that I was told," Holder said.
Holder directed Vess to meet with Lodge officials to check on the status of repaving and reopening Ash Avenue and report back about the situation at the board's next meeting on May 8.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.