Residents Urged To Use Caution As Heavy Rains Bring Flash Flood Warning

Signal Mountain Council Delays Decision On Replacement For Vice Mayor Dick Gee; Ad Hoc Group Studying Water System Issue

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - by Gail Perry
Signal Mountain Middle/High students participated in a technology conference
Signal Mountain Middle/High students participated in a technology conference
- photo by Gail Perry

The Signal Mountain Town Council has postponed choosing a replacement to fill Vice Mayor Gee’s position when he is no longer eligible to serve. Council members said they wanted the opportunity to talk to each of the eight qualifying candidates.


Discussions with the candidates cannot include questions to get a response that would lead to a vote that a council member might be looking for, cautioned Town Attorney Phil Noblett.

A decision to fill the two-month vacancy will take place at the Aug. 24 agenda meeting at 12:30. Relative to Mr. Gee’s departure, the council will also have to determine a replacement as acting Vice Mayor and his position on the planning commission.


The candidates include:

·       Eugenia Alderdice – a 22-year resident of the town, she ran for town council in 2016 but was forced to withdraw for family reasons. She served as co-chair of the citizens’ advocacy group “Be Vocal, Choose Local,” which opposed a proposal to sell Signal’s water supply to Tennessee American.

·       Marleah Alpers – active on the board of Nolan Elementary PTA, she moved here with her family four years ago after her husband completed his commitment to the U.S. Air Force.

·       Brandon Anthony – owner/operator of Chattanooga Jewelry Company, he has lived in the town for six years and feels “a civic responsibility to support our local government and the folks that work diligently to keep it running.”

·     Anne Hagood  – a native of Signal Mountain who moved away as an adult but returned for good 32 years ago, she believes her experience in software development and construction management help her understand issues such as the future of the town water system.

·     Annie Impink Hall  – a member of the Hamilton County Industrial Development Board since 1982 and a Signal resident for almost 43 years, she also is a former county school board member.

·       Laurence “Scott” Rix – chief operating officer of data management and corporate mass communications firm Airnet and a member of the Chattanooga Technology Council, he has lived in Signal for 23 years.
·       Richard Saputa – consultant to the nuclear electric utility industry and a licensed soccer coach and referee, he has been a resident of the town for eight years. Earlier this year he filed a multi-million-dollar civil rights lawsuit against Signal and other defendants in federal court.

·       Jim Webster – chief executive officer of Continental Films, a multimedia company founded by his father in 1951. He has been a Signal resident for more than 40 years.


The town of Signal Mountain is establishing a more streamlined way for rezoning requests to be processed. The planning commission initiated the changes that clarify the responsibilities of the planning commission and of the town council. Vice Mayor Gee said with the new rules that technical debate will take place at the planning commission meetings and political components will be reserved for council meetings.


Some of the changes include the planning commission must receiving the request for a zoning change 60 days prior to the meeting, and professional site plans must accompany the request. There is a time requirement for signs to be posted - 14 days before the meeting. Also, time limits will be imposed on the applicants for the project, opponents, commissioners and council members during both the planning commission meetings and the council meetings. If the request is denied, reapplication cannot be made earlier than in 10 months. The town council approved the amendments to the rezoning ordinance on first reading at the August meeting. A public hearing on the changes will be held before the September regular meeting where the second vote will be taken.


An ad hoc committee on the issue of the town’s retention of the water system made a presentation about their intent. “We’re not trying to be adversarial, we’re just trying to provide good information so you can make good decisions,” Ann Haygood told the council. She said they will study all aspects of owning the system, which this group considers to be a valuable asset. Plans include talking to other municipalities which have sold their systems and to study elements that could lead to savings. The council requested a time limit for the study and to be updated monthly.


The budget for 2018-2019 that was tabled in July was adopted at the August meeting. It sets the tax rate at $1.5665 for every $100 in assessed property value.


A public hearing with nobody for or against and a final vote to rezone property at 1161 Ridgeway from Low Density Residential to Medium Density Residential will allow the construction of a duplex. The council also voted to abandon a portion of Ohio Avenue right-of-way that will increase the size of two other properties and make one of them more buildable, said Town Manager Boyd Veal. This will not affect any connectivity, he said, so access remains to all surrounding property.


An ordinance was passed on first reading that will allow the town to accept partial payment of property taxes. Mr. Veal said the town currently has the capability to manage this and it is a way to assist citizens if they are attempting to keep up with the tax. It will be good for people on a fixed income and will reduce collection costs, said Mr. Noblett. This plan will be available for taxes that are due but are not delinquent.


The purpose of the council’s agenda meetings has evolved over time and, with the changes of work that takes place during those meetings, the council decided that it would be good to allow public input during them. It is also viewed as a way to encourage participation at those meetings.


Authorization was given to pay $11,847 for annual IT system service and software that connects mobile, land and work stations used by the police department. Hamilton County Commissioner Jim Fields has provided $7,000 toward the expense of this service for the past two years, said Police Chief Mike Williams. Two years ago, all reports were done by hand, but now reports can be done in the police cars. “Two years ago we were in the stone ages, now we have become one of the best in the state,” said Mayor Chris Howley.


Stormwater problems on Fern Trail have been fixed. The original estimate for the work was $56,295 but unexpected problems were discovered in the road bed so the project kept growing, said Mr. Veal. The additional work that was needed added $26,608. The money for these repairs will come from the stormwater budget.


A way for the centennial celebration committee to solicit and accept donations has been created. The community foundation will maintain an account for this purpose that is separate and that can be traced. The funds will be subject to oversight by the council who will receive a report from the centennial committee each month.  


The town has received a Transportation Alternatives Program grant (TAP) that will be used to build sidewalks and crosswalks. The cost of the projects have increased since the grant application was made, and now the project will need to be reduced to match the available funding, said the city manager. The council also voted to apply for a TDOT Multimodal grant that could be used for sidewalks, but the location of where they could be built is more limited. A vote was unanimous to accept the TAP funds and to proceed with the TDOT multimodal grant application.


The council recognized and commended Signal Mountain Middle / High School students for their outstanding performance at the 2018 Technology Student Association national conference where they finished with numerous national rankings.


The town council’s next agenda meeting will be August 24 at 12:30. The next regular council meeting will be September 10 at 6:30 p.m.



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