Mayor defers to Council

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lewisburg's City Council should decide when and if a public hearing is conducted on Waste Management's request for permission to expand dumping operations at Cedar Ridge Landfill, two top city leaders said Wednesday evening.

"We decided the Council needed to be consulted," Mayor Bob Phillips said as he explained what he and City Manager Eddie Fuller did after announcing last week that a hearing would be held early next month. "The decision was deferred to Tuesday."

Phillips and Fuller said officials with Waste Management were asked about whether time was a factor when scheduling the hearing. The mayor and manager said the company's response was that a couple of weeks wouldn't make that much difference.

Waiting for a decision by the Council when it meets on Tuesday at 6p.m. in City Hall maintains the opportunity for answers on big landfill questions:

* Will residents have a live, open forum to present reasons why landfill expansion plans do or do not meet state standards and protections for the environment, health and welfare of people here?

* Can the Council relinquish its authority over landfill expnsion by a vote of 3-1 without a new member added to the board, or must former Councilwoman Betsy Shelton's seat be filled and a vote of 4-1 be cast to meet a state requirement for a two thirds majority when abandoning power over landfills?

* Will Councilmen Robin Minor, Hershel Davis and Phil Sanders have another opportunity to vote for consummating Waste Management's deal that would provide free trash disposal as long as the landfill is operating? The three-man majority accepted the concept, but to close the deal, the city must relinquish its power to prevent expansion and that requires a two-thirds majority.

Well-aware of such complexities, Phillips repeated another concern expressed last week: "We have a deadline. Our contract (for disposal at the landfill) runs out in June."

Reflecting on the abandoned plan to set a hearing shortly after the Presidential election, Fuller said, "Things change."

The Council meeting for this month was set for its traditional date, the second Monday of the month,but that was shortly after the Goats, Music and More Festival and Phillips was notable to attend. Fuller and Phillips said Councilwoman Quinn Brandon couldn't attend the second date set -- Tuesday this week, so the monthly Council meeting is two weeks later than normal. Brandon is the council member who's spoken against relinquishing authority over the landfill.

Meanwhile, Odie Whitehead of Second Avenue remains the only applicant for the seat Shelton left, so barring unforeseen circumstances, he appears to be the next member of the Council, according to Fuller.

The Council still has other important issues to address.

Lewisburg Printing has applied for a personal property tax break since it plans to buy a much larger press and the Council must approve that as well as a contract for a similar deal to grant tax relief for a non-profit organization that helps house disabled people.

AUTOM, the Phoenix-based church supply business that's building a warehouse, telephone and distribution center in the Lewisburg Business Park, is in-line for a low-interest loan of federal money administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Fuller said. The Council must act on that.

Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board recommends the Council purchase 47 more acres to expand the Business Park again and various steps have been taken to act on a purchase option. Explanations may come from IDB Chairman Eddie Wiles and the Board's attorney, Bob Binkley.

Dawn Christmas has a petition from her neighbors in the Amberwood subdivision to reduce the speed limit on Summerset Circle and Amberwood Court from 30- to 20 mph.

Two requests have been received to close roads. One is an old street between Washington Drive and Easy Street. The other is a portion of Kings Lane near Silver Creek Road and Heil Quaker Avenue. Both require three successful votes by the Council. The first are set Tuesday.