Annexation leading to larger business park

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lewisburg's City Council has started the legislative work to annex 46 acres it purchased with the city's Industrial Development Board for the expansion of the Business Park on Mooresville Highway.

While expected, the decision came as the Tennessee Department of Transportation took more steps to widen Mooresville Highway from Interstate 65 to the city that's been ranked by Site election magazine as 65th out of 700 micropolitan areas defined by the Census Bureau.

The unanimous vote Tuesday night is a continued response to Lewisburg Industrial Development Director Terry Wallace's recommendation to expand the Business Park so industrialists will have more options when looking at Lewisburg as a prospective location for their businesses and the jobs that would come with a new location.

Land purchased from Ralph Harder "is part of the growth plan," City Manager Eddie Fuller told the Council with a reference to a recently altered 20-year plan that makes a distinction between land that can be annexed and land that's not to be annexed.

Annexation is important for several reasons, as Fuller and Wallace have explained. The land purchased for $225,000 was acquired so it can be resold to a business that's to employ people here, but as such the land would then return to the property tax rolls as property that's taxed at a commercial rate. Annexation also make the city eligible for state and federal assistance toward attracting employers.

"And," Fuller told the Council, "at some point, we will have to impose the restrictive covenants like the rest of the Business Park," so new businesses and their buildings are compatible with what's already been established at the park.

Autom Church Supply Co. is the latest to build in the park. It's shipping and receivng operation has been moved here from Phoenix, Ariz. About a year earlier, U.S. Tank and Cryogenics moved its metal bottle refurbishing operation from Florida to Lewisburg.

Councilman Robin Minor moved and Councilman Odie Whitehead seconded the Planning Commission's recommendation to annex the land and zone the 46 acres as BP, the business park classification.

It was the first of three required votes to make the park larger.

This step follows extensive discussions with the owner of adjacent property who has an access easement across the Harder property to his land due north of the rest of the business park. Several plans were explored on how to meet the man's request. They included providing a buffer between the park and his family's home place, but as talks continued, the size of the land he wanted between that house and the park's road grew from a few acres to a dozen. At the end of the negotiations, the Council decided to buy the land before resolving the easement issue and concluded condemnation may be the only solution.