Bottling plant OK'd on Hwy 99

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tom Griffin of Nashville, left, and John Cook of Belfast, right, got the green light from the county to proceed with plans for a bottling plant in the Caney Springs community.

Marshall County's Board of Zoning Appeals last week authorized use of a building constructed at Caney Springs for a cabinet shop to be converted into a bottling plant for the applicants' Moose Creek brand of sauce.

"We want to open a bottling facility at Highway 99," said Tom Griffin of Nashville, the self-described research and development chief for his enterprise with John Cook of Belfast, the production manager for the business they plan.

"Plus, we have other people with products they want to bottle," Griffin said in the Marshall County Courthouse Annex during a meeting of the zoning appeals board. "We're, hopefully, going to create 10-15 jobs in the next six months."

County Codes and Zoning Director Don Nelson explained that Griffin and Cook had to apply to the Board of Zoning Appeals for permission because the real estate to be used for the bottling plant has a zoning classification that includes a list of other uses permitted for the property. However, a bottling plant isn't on that list.

"The BZA has authority to decide if it will fit the zoning," Nelson said. He's received "absolutely no calls" about the technical request to the zoning board.

Once the bottling business is in operation, Griffin and Cook plan to have a retail sales shop in a large display room in the front of the building.

Rick Elmore, proprietor of Elmore Sales, established his cabinet shop in the building on the north side of Highway 99 east of a Methodist church and west of a Baptist Church.

Noting the churches are in the vicinity, BZA member Doug Martin suggested the board prohibit operations in the metal building on Sundays. Other board members and the applicants agreed.

Elmore constructed the building for his cabinet shop, but explained, "I think I'll have to move to Huntsville. That's where all the cabinet work is." Later he said he didn't plan to move his home from Marshall County.

One of the men on the BZA said they didn't want sawdust in barbecue sauce and Chairman Clint Edmonson asked if the government must inspect bottling operations and Cook said yes, the business will be inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

The businessmen and Nelson indicated that a state health inspector has said the land is suitable for drainage lines from a septic tank to serve the new business. Furthermore, there's a water recovery system planned for the bottling operation.

Griffin and Cook have become associated with national representatives for food brokers and distributors during the past 10 years, so they're also offering a service to people with start-up sauce businesses, or related products that need bottling and marketing.

"And we'll be working with farmers around here who will grow our ingredients," Cook said.

The BZA's vote to authorize the proposed business on the land zoned for commercial purposes was unanimous. Members include Edmonson, Martin, James McKnight, Will Wilson and County Commissioner Mary Ann Neill. Neill was absent.