City Council to consider Friendship Bell grant app, Woodland rezonings

The Oak Ridge City Council will consider applying for a $100,000 grant application to help rebuild the Friendship Bell House in Alvin K. Bissell Park, and members will also consider a preliminary plan and re-zonings that would allow a retail development on 2.29 acres along South Illinois Avenue between Aldi grocery and Weigel’s gas station and convenience store.

If Council approves, the city would apply for a Friendship Bell grant from the Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund, which supports projects that “contribute to international cultural exchange and international goodwill.” The city is requesting $100,000 to match $50,000 from the Oak Ridge Capital Projects Fund and $50,000 from private and community contributions and donations. The grant application outlines a 50/50 match requirement if the request is approved.

The preliminary master plan and re-zonings for the South Illinois Avenue property will be considered on second and final reading tonight. The property would be rezoned from residential to business. The developer is Rudd, Seeley, and Wallis of Nashville. The company has proposed a one-story, 15,200-square-foot commercial building next to Aldi.

Tonight’s City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.

See this story for more information.

Council considers Clark Center Park, ORHS stoplight, Woodland development

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday night will consider the start of negotiations over the future of Clark Center Park, a new stoplight on Oak Ridge Turnpike in front of the high school, and changes, including rezonings, that could allow a small commercial development near Aldi grocery on South Illinois Avenue.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, August 11, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.

See the preview story here.

Council considers Clark Center Park, ORHS stoplight, Woodland development

Clark Center Park Water View

A view of Melton Hill Lake near a boat ramp and between two picnic areas at Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge.

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday night will consider the start of negotiations over the future of Clark Center Park, a new stoplight on Oak Ridge Turnpike in front of the high school, and changes, including rezonings, that could allow a small commercial development near Aldi grocery on South Illinois Avenue.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, August 11, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.

A resolution to be considered tonight would allow Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson to discuss the future of Clark Center Park with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. DOE-ORO  has said it wants to transfer the park to the city at no cost as long as it remains a recreational park asset for the public.

The Oak Ridge Office now spends about $300,000 per year to maintain the park. One of the questions for city officials is whether Oak Ridge can afford to take over the 80-acre park, which is in south Oak Ridge on Melton Hill Lake. Also known as Carbide Park, it includes two ball fields, two large picnic areas, a small playground, a boat ramp, restrooms, fishing trails, and a beach. It also includes access to the Gallaher Bend Greenway. [Read more…]

Appeals Court rules against rock quarry foes

Information from WYSH Radio

The Tennessee Court of Appeals late last week ruled against a group of citizens who had sued the city of Clinton and the Rogers Group over the city’s rezoning of land near the Bethel community to allow for the road-paving company to reopen its controversial rock quarry.

Citizens for Safety and Clean Air had filed the suit, alleging that the city’s rezoning of the land to M-2—or heavy industrial use—had been capricious and arbitrary and that it had constituted illegal spot zoning.

Anderson County Chancellor William Lantrip ruled against the plaintiffs earlier this year, and the case was appealed. [Read more…]

Council approves Aldi rezoning, waterfront crosswalk signs, kayak rentals

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday approved a rezoning that could allow an Aldi grocery store on South Illinois Avenue, solar-powered pedestrian warning signs on Melton Lake Drive, and a program to rent bicycles and kayaks at Melton Lake Park.

The Aldi could open on about 1.4 acres in the Woodland Town Center near Panera Bread and Aubrey’s restaurant this fall.

The pedestrian signs, as well as new pavement markings, could be installed at three crosswalks at Amanda Drive, Emory Valley Road, and Rivers Run on Melton Lake Drive. [Read more…]

Council approves stoplight, rezonings for Kroger

Kroger Marketplace Site

The northeast corner of the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue, where a 25-acre Kroger Marketplace shopping center has been proposed. The Oak Ridge City Council approved rezonings for the $30 million project on Monday.

In three 6-0 votes Monday, the Oak Ridge City Council approved a new stoplight on North Illinois Avenue for a new Kroger shopping center, approved rezonings for the project, and agreed to give up two neighborhood roads—Iris Circle and Robin Lane—to make way for the development.

The stoplight for the $30 million Kroger Marketplace shopping center would be at North Illinois Avenue and Ivanhoe Road. The 25-acre project will also need new entrances on Oak Ridge Turnpike and North Illinois Avenue. Those roads are state routes, so the stoplight and entrances will have to be approved by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The shopping center will replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church northeast of the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue.

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

In response to a question from a neighborhood resident, Paul Xhajanka, Kroger real estate manager in Atlanta, Ga., and Parker Hardy, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce president, said the developers had looked at other possible commercial locations in Oak Ridge, but weren’t able to make a deal work for several reasons, including property owners who didn’t want to sell and existing leases that hindered potential developments.

Xhajanka has said home demolition at the shopping center site could begin in February. The center would include 12,000 square feet of shop space and five outparcels, and it could open early in 2014.

Xhajanka has said it will be like Kroger stores in Farragut and at Cedar Bluff Road and Kingston Pike in Knoxville. The Oak Ridge store will include such stores as a bank, Fred Meyer jeweler, and Starbucks.

The new shopping center is expected to add about 250 jobs.

He said Kroger is leasing its current space and is trying to find a tenant to sublease it.

Council first approved project rezonings for the Kroger Marketplace during an Oct. 8 meeting.

City Council considers new Kroger stoplight, Alexander Inn tax break

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider recommending a new stoplight on North Illinois Avenue for a new Kroger shopping center.

Council will also decide whether to give developers a 90 percent, 10-year tax break to convert the historic but rundown Alexander Inn into an assisted living center.

The new stoplight for the $30 million Kroger Marketplace shopping center would be at North Illinois Avenue and Ivanhoe Road. The project will also need new entrances on Oak Ridge Turnpike and North Illinois Avenue.

Those roads are state routes, so the stoplight and entrances will have to be approved by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

As part of the project, City Council has been asked to give up two neighborhood roads—Iris Circle and Robin Lane—to make way for the 25-acre shopping center. Sewer, water, and electric easements will also have to abandoned. The shopping center will replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church northeast of the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue.

Council approved rezonings for the project in the first of two readings, or votes, earlier this month, and endorsed what is known as a planned unit development preliminary master plan.

The tax break for the Alexander Inn, officially known as a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, or PILOT, was endorsed in a 6-0 vote by the Oak Ridge Industrial Development board on Oct. 11. It would be used to help with public improvements that include a new road for cars that now drive through the three-acre site, relocation of a storm sewer under the two-story building, environmental remediation, building stabilization, and code compliance.

Even with the temporary tax break, Oak Ridge and Anderson County will continue to receive at least as much in property taxes as they do now, said Ray Evans, an economic development consultant for the city.

The project has been proposed by Family Pride Corp. of Loudon and InSite Development Corp. of Knoxville. Family Pride has said the project is not economically feasible without the tax break.

Construction of the $4.5 million, 60-unit assisted living center could take roughly a year.

A Kroger representative said home demolition at the shopping center site could begin in February. The Alexander Inn developers have said they are ready to immediately start remediation and rehabilitation work if Council approves the PILOT.

Monday’s meeting is unusual in that it’s the second regular City Council meeting this month. Council added the meeting to consider the Kroger and Alexander Inn project, as well as new city codes.

Council also changed the date of the regular November meeting. It was moved from Nov. 12 to Nov. 5. That means it will be held before the Nov. 6 election, ensuring there are seven Council members available for the meeting.

City officials weren’t sure if the results of the election would be certified by the Nov. 12 meeting, so it was possible that only four of the seven Council members would have been available for that meeting.

The Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 meetings both start at 7 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.

For more information, contact the Oak Ridge City Clerk’s Office at (865) 425-3411.

Council approves Weigel’s store in two 6-0 votes

Weigels Rezoning

The Oak Ridge City Council has approved a rezoning and two driveways for a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue.

With almost no discussion, the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday voted 6-0 to approve a rezoning and two driveways off South Illinois Avenue for a new Weigel’s gas station and convenience store.

In previous meetings, city officials had been concerned about potential traffic problems at the new 16-pump gas station, particularly with more vehicles turning left to get on and off busy, seven-lane South Illinois Avenue.

But a traffic study completed by Knoxville engineering firm Cannon and Cannon in September appears to have alleviated those concerns. Prepared for Weigel’s, that study said the new store would have a minimal impact on traffic.

“Much to my surprise, this is a good idea,” Oak Ridge City Council member Ellen Smith said before Monday night’s vote.

[Read more…]

Council approves rezoning for Kroger Marketplace shopping center

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

Kroger Marketplace Site Plan

Note: This story was updated at 9:44 p.m.

A rezoning approved by Oak Ridge City Council on Monday could allow Kroger to move into a new store that would almost double its space.

The company has been interested in expanding in Oak Ridge for about four years, said Paul Xhajanka, Kroger real estate manager in Atlanta, Ga. However, that hasn’t been possible at the current site at South Illinois and Rutgers avenues due to space constraints and other tenants.

So, the company now plans to move a few miles north to a 25-acre development at the busy intersection of Illinois Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike.

Council voted 6-0 on Monday to approve a rezoning for that $30 million shopping center, which would be anchored by a 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace.

As proposed, the shopping center would replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church. A handful of the homeowners who have agreed to sell their properties are considering whether to move their homes, Xhajanka said.

[Read more…]

Council approves Weigel’s rezoning

Weigels Rezoning

The Oak Ridge City Council has approved a rezoning for a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue in the first of two readings.

The Oak Ridge City Council has approved a rezoning that could allow a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue.

Council approved the rezoning in a 6-1 vote during the first of two readings on Monday. It will be considered during a second and final reading on Oct. 10.

The rezoning would allow the proposed gas station and convenience store on a 1.5-acre parcel south of TNBank. The 3,900-square-foot store could open by 2013.

[Read more…]

Council considers Weigel’s rezoning tonight

Weigels Rezoning

The Oak Ridge City Council will consider a rezoning for a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue during a meeting at 7 p.m. today.

The Oak Ridge City Council will consider a property rezoning tonight that could allow a Weigel’s on South Illinois Avenue.

The rezoning would allow the proposed gas station and convenience store on a 1.5-acre parcel south of TNBank. The 3,900-square-foot store could open by 2013.

[Read more…]

Planning Commission recommends Weigel’s rezoning

There are more hurdles to clear before a Weigel’s can be built on South Illinois Avenue, but a city board has recommended that a 1.5-acre parcel south of TNBank be rezoned for the proposed gas station and convenience store.

The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission recommended the rezoning in a 7-3 vote Thursday.

[Read more…]