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City Approves $750,000 Purchase to Move Maintenance Shop

By Bree Collar, Fannin Sentinel Staff Writer

A $750,000 purchase of property to relocate the City of Blue Ridge’s maintenance shop was approved March 10, opening up new possibilities for the current shop location.
A city shop move, rezoning request approval and steps toward enacting a storm water management ordinance and watershed protection plan were among topics at the March 10 monthly Blue Ridge City Council meeting.
In a swift move last week council members Nathan Fitts, Rhonda Haight and Robbie Cornelius unanimously approved the purchase of property at 631 Industrial Blvd. in Blue Ridge where Highland Baptist Tabernacle was located.
“The city has been looking at purchasing property. We actually have a contract now and we just want to approve it at a public meeting,” Haight said. They will still be under due diligence for 60 days with a final purchase and sale agreement. The due diligence process allows the City to properly investigate the various aspects of the property before closing on the contract.
Haight motioned to move forward with the $750,000 property purchase with unanimous council approval minus the absence of Council member Harold Herndon.
The purchase will relocate the current city maintenance shop from its location along the extended portion of East Main Street to Industrial Boulevard in Blue Ridge.
Mayor Donna Whitener later added that the current location of the city shop has inadequate space for storing equipment and piping.
She said this new purchase moves the facility out of a location that could open up an area for the city to develop space for excess parking as well as provide space for the city to create a needed retention pond.
Robbman “Scott” Kiker went before the Council to request to transfer his two acre lot at 200 West First St. currently designated as C2 general commercial district to Central Business District (CBD).
The Blue Ridge Planning Commission approved the request be sent to the Council for approval with contingencies on seeking city approval prior to issuance of permits or upgrades of sewer or power.
City Attorney James Balli said the Planning Commission also recommended water, road, sidewalk or sewer upgrades be at the applicant’s expense. A final site plan must come back to the city for final approval.
Kiker plans to build a condominium complex that will include up to 60 residences and follow an architecture scheme that flows in the mountain region. He identified the property that sits northside adjacent to United Community Bank as an entry to the downtown Blue Ridge area. “This is a gateway to Blue Ridge and has been taken into consideration as far as architectural design,” Kiker said.
The council unanimously approved the Planning Commission’s recommendations of rezoning Kiker’s request to CBD.
In a first reading of a storm water ordinance, Balli said the city currently does not have a storm water management ordinance. The purpose of creating this provides enforcement procedures creating stream buffer protection, rules and regulations for illicit discharges and illegal connections. The importance of the ordinance follows Environmental Protection Department (EPD) guidelines aiding the city to enforce legal matters when new development comes in to comply with storm water rules and regulations.
Balli said developers will have to prove they are following city storm water guidelines before a set of plans are approved.
In addition, a watershed protection plan was unanimously approved by the Council that the EPD wanted in place to continue operation of the sewer plant. Approval of the Watershed Protection Plan allows the city to keep permits in place and follow environmental guidelines.
The next Blue Ridge City Council meeting will be Tuesday, April 14 at 5 p.m.

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