UPDATE: Commission calls for joint meeting on 70S

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By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor

Cannon County Commission okayed a measure calling for a joint meeting with Woodbury about the future of state Route 70S.

The resolution made by Commissioner Kevin George calls for a meeting to discuss the options presented by the Tennessee Department of Transportation for completion of 70S. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Clint Higgins.

George suggested that County Commission, Woodbury Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Industrial Development Board meet along with the county and city planning commissions.

County Executive Mike Gannon is to arrange the meeting possibly for either Jan. 7 or 14th.

George's motion came on the heels of a suggestion by Commission Chairman Mark Barker that Cannon County needs to make a recommendation to TDOT's Rural Planning Organization (RPO) concerning the project.

"We need to give them a recommendation on what we think," Barker said. "We've been thinking about at least for a month."

"They (TDOT) do want your input," agreed County Executive Mike Gannon.

TDOT engineers have drafted suggested routes that basically take a northern or southern path around Woodbury. Two or four-lane versions of the highway have also been suggested.

While neither path has any impact on George's Third District, several citizens from East Side have come forward to him with concerns about the highway.

Commissioner Chuck Holt, who represents Woodbury on the Commissioner, said a number of residents are worried about the roadway's path.

"Once we do a bypass around Woodbury … it's going to kill Woodbury," Holt said.

Holt said he has done considerable research about the proposal.

"I've looked at Sparta and McMinnville" as well as other communities like Alexandria, he said. "I just don't see what the possible benefits are to our community."

Many local businesses are struggling to keep going. They can't afford to move. They are doing good to keep their heads above water, Holt said.

The project benefits McMinnville and not Woodbury, he said.

"We need to protect our old places," agreed Commissioner Jim Jones.

IDB Chairman Randall Reid said Woodbury is different than communities like Alexandria in that it is Cannon County's seat of government. Alexandria is not a county seat.

"The Courthouse is the main reason people come downtown. You can put a road anywhere, but people will still come downtown," he said.

Reid said the IDB needs to be a part of the discussion.

"There needs to be a lot of input from a lot of people," he said.

George's motion calling for a meeting between all the appropriate town and county officials was passed unanimously.



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December 13, 2013 at 7:54am
Part of this comment was written for an earlier story posted by the Cannon Courier but taken down from their site before this comment could be submitted. It has been modified to address both stories related to the Hwy 70S proposed routes.
Based upon the opening statement from the story appearing in the Cannon Courier Nov 13.…….”Hurry up or get left out was the message County Commissioners heard from the state Department of Transportation concerning completion of state Route 70S through or around Woodbury,”…. it appears there is Fourth option. Getting left out would be a fourth option beyond the three options of where such a proposed “new and improved” route would be placed. I think the public should fully understand this if this is, in fact, correct. This appears to run contrary, however, to what citizens have been led to believe these last 20 plus years since TDOT first announced such a plan. Is this correct?

Secondly, when TDOT first announced this plan there appeared to be little uncertainty with regard to such a by-pass being a 4 lane highway. It seems now TDOT is distancing itself from such a position. Refer to the statement by Wes Hughen… “I wouldn’t (would NOT) assume that it would be a four-lane highway,” Hughen told the commissioners. “You’ve got to consider that we’re not going into debt” to pay for the project.” If no four-lane, then what is the point?
The only visible objective of TDOT appears to be to re-route traffic around Woodbury in order to expedite the traffic flow between McMinnville and Murfreesboro. Where does Woodbury gain from such a plan? The main corridor for traffic in Woodbury is Hwy 70S. Not Hwy 53. This is not another “Adams Street by-pass.” Most every business along the Hwy 70S corridor within the city limits of Woodbury prospers from this traffic flow. Farmers Coop and Market, Davenport’s Service Station, McDonalds, Banks, downtown businesses, Drug Stores/pharmacies, Car lots, Hardees, Chilangos, China Star, Smith’s Grocery, West End service station, Dollar General Market, Higgins car wash and Flea Mkt, and many of those businesses in between not specifically referenced. Citizens of Cannon County need to be involved in this decision along with all their respective representatives from the various branches of government. While there are those who desire a better future for Cannon County, it is best such a plan be carefully thought out and consideration given to those who currently have financial investments at stake. They too bank upon the future of Cannon County. Their dreams of the future rest soundly upon their current investments.
So……. The four options are: North Route, Center Route, Southern Route, and No Route. Only with full disclosure and a complete understanding of these options will it be possible for the proposed combined groups as mentioned in this current story be able to objectively determine the course of Cannon County’s future. TDOT should supply for this meeting all route proposal maps, past and current traffic flow studies, and projections for future traffic flow patterns. TDOT should also confirm their intention with regard to whether a 4 lane or 2 lane highway is being planned. How can they build it if they don’t know what they are building? Or, it this too subject to the recommendation of the County Commission?
Perhaps the Industrial Board or the two planning commissions can supply data relative to the financial impact each of the routes will have upon current businesses. If not, why can’t they? Have they not requested such a survey from all the businesses that might be impacted by these decisions? Since tax revenues (both sales and property) are subject to this impact, the County Commission should require such a study be done by these Boards/Commissions. Any significant decline in revenues will require an additional tax burden be paid by the citizens of Cannon County to support local government operations at current levels. Consequently, any positive impact in revenue should lessen the existing tax burden. What are the projections? Cannon Countians have a right to know. Government officials have a responsibility to know before making such decisions.
There is much food for thought as these government bodies meet to consider the future of Cannon County. Meeting at an empty table will surely result in shortcomings and misgivings. Being prepared with all the data that can possibly be obtained will provide them some measure of objectivity when they consider what is best for Cannon County. The future of Cannon County rests upon the shoulders of these elected and appointed officials.
December 13, 2013 at 2:09pm
Good comments as usual Bonnie.

You are correct in the idea that there are four options. However, only one is currently under consideration by TDOT according to the gentleman who spoke in the November Commissioner meeting.
The southern route is the only route that currently has an environmental impact study done on it. It is the only route that could currently be considered at this time and even that route would have to be re-evaluated in two years because they current study becomes invalid in two years.
The reason the idea of a four lane bypass is really irrelevant is because he stated the State of Tennessee is not in debt and will not go in debt to build a road. He also stated that if one county needed a two lane road and we asked for a four lane road then the other county would get priority because it would be cheaper to build. No matter what route we take, if any, we should only ask for a two lane and not a four lane or we lose any chance of getting it built due to costs and priority.
As far as the IDB or any other planning commission having the ability to determine the financial impact of a specific route would be impossible I believe. There is no way we could predict how many businesses would close, how many would move from their current locations and relocate to the new bypass lanes, we have no way of knowing how many new businesses would open, etc.
The key to this in my opinion is getting a diverse group of people together and look at all the options and developing the best choice through elimination, availability and cost.

December 13, 2013 at 6:00pm
The fourth option or no by-pass will be the best for woodbury as Bonnie said, a by-pass will destroy what is left of town.
December 16, 2013 at 9:35am
And the reason Woodbury and Cannon County need this by-pass again is what?
December 16, 2013 at 1:23pm
Personally, I have no opinion on the need for a bypass or the need not to have a bypass.

I think it could go either way.

The only thing I ask and believe we need is a decision that will put it to rest once and for all.

Doing nothing, deciding nothing and making no decision at all is not an option I believe is feasible.
December 16, 2013 at 6:02pm
Take a drive to McMinnville a four lane thur town that is dying,a then they have by-pass that is booming.

December 17, 2013 at 4:01pm
McMinnville has been dead for years.
December 17, 2013 at 4:14pm
I feel the town of Woodbury needs to give people a reason to visit this community. Look at Bell Buckle. There is no main road going through town but every weekend the town is packed with visitors because the community made it an interesting place to visit. I feel this would be a good option for Woodbury because you would not have the traffic to deal with during the week and have the revenue coming in during the weekends.
December 17, 2013 at 8:56pm
Do any of Cannon County's elected officials wish to weigh in on this discussion?
December 18, 2013 at 8:48am
awc96 you are correct. I have been saying for years that Cannon County could do a lot to promote itself in a way that would draw people here with or without a by-pass.

In all probability the only businesses hurt by a by-pass would be the Co-Op and Davenport's Gas Station because most people blow through Woodbury on their way to Murfreesboro and beyond. The people that shop here are locals or have come here for a specific thing like the Antique stores, Arts Center, etc.

Bonnie: To answer your question if the county's elected officials want to weigh in, I believe their silence speaks volumes. Plus it is an election year and you aren't going to get any of them to commit to anything due to fear of losing a vote. However, you will begin to start seeing one in particular popping his head up in every picture he can creep in trying to act like he is actually doing something besides sitting on his thumbs costing the taxpayers of this county thousands of dollars each year.

December 18, 2013 at 9:33am
I agree with with CoreyD. We need something to attract visitors to our town, such as Bell Buckle has. Problem is, no one wants to commit.
December 18, 2013 at 9:43am
I believe the citizens and voters can use such forums as this one provided by the Cannon Courier to express their points of view and concerns about various matters affecting the county. Thank you Cannon Courier for providing this much needed service. It would do well for all elected officials to monitor the comments posted here. It appears there is a great cross section of people who read and rely upon the Courier for keeping them informed. It would be great to occasionally hear from our officials as to what their points of view are on those issues important to Cannon citizens. As officials need to stay informed and educated on such matters, so also do the citizens of Cannon County. Here is the opportunity for officials to share information and help to better inform the public with regard to critical issues confronting both themselves and the residents of Cannon County. Legislative action was designed to be representative of the desires of its citizens. How can our officials know what these desires are without learning of them from the public they represent?
December 21, 2013 at 8:12am
Just to give you an update Bonnie.

The JECDB met Thursday night December 19th, 2013.

They did not have a quorum or an agenda. Only 8 out of the 16 members on the board showed up.

Does that not speak volumes about what kind of people we have serving on and running the boards that affect the major growth and development of our community?
Not to mention the fact that the JECDB is required to meet with a quorum and keep accurate minutes in order for our county to qualify for grants.

It never ceases to amaze me at the ineffectiveness of certain people and how they are running our county into the ground and getting paid thousands of dollars a year by the taxpayer.
December 22, 2013 at 4:10pm
Corey, This is one of the problems in having a joint board. Getting 16 people to show up at a meeting is one thing, getting them to agree on any action is yet another. Far too many people involved to be an effective committee. Those who consistently fail to appear at such meetings should be replaced or the total number reduced to those faithful few who do show up. Better to have 5 good people than 8 disinterested ones.
December 23, 2013 at 9:56pm
I agree Bonnie. The problem is the people are hand picked for reasons that are obvious.

When you don't want an effective board then you will pick people who won't show up and participate so you can make all the decisions yourself.

The same issue was taking place with the IDB a year and a half ago until Bob Stoetzel approached the county commissioners and had them disband the old board that was never showing up and replaced them with people who actually care about this county.

It won't happen this time because certain people don't want that to happen.

You see the less people know, the less people recognize, the less people are involved means the more you can do what you want to do instead of what needs to be done.
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