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City approves use permitted amendment on first reading

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By Holly Roeder
Staff Writer

The City of Henderson Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Thursday, June 16. All members were in attendance with the exception of Alderman Michael Phelps.
The board passed all agenda items, including second and final readings on an increase in sanitation rates and the 2024-2025 City Budget and Tax Rate. Also among items passed, the board approved an ordinance on the first reading concerning a use permitted on appeal for electric substations.
The proposed 2024-2025 City Budget was approved on the final reading with all present in favor. The Tax Rate remains the same at $0.90 per $100 of assessed value. “We have a budget,” said Mayor Bobby King, noting it will be the final budget for his term as mayor.
The City Sanitation Rate will increase by approximately 5.71%, or $1 per month, following a roll call vote with all present voting in favor of the final reading of the ordinance.
Mayor King opened discussion of the electric substations ordinance amendment with a public hearing. Representatives from the community and from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Coorporation presented to the board, explaining each viewpoint on the matter. Those speaking for the community included Gene Balius, Valerie Pitoni and Taylor Carroll. Balius spoke on behalf of the Jacks Creek Cove community health and safety concerns, issues with construction and property devaluing. Health concerns included EMF, presented data showing links to health issues. Pitoni addressed concerns with loss of income in short term rentals. Carroll addressed the board with two of her four children, wearing “Save Our Back Yard” t-shirts, and addressed her own concerns of their health and future in close proximity to the potential substation. “I’m not willing to risk anything for my kids,” Carroll said.
Clint Malone spoke on behalf of STEMC, giving details rebutting some of the concerns brought up by community members. Malone stated Southwest is a membership cooperation – owned and operated by its members. He said the business also participates with Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program, a third-party organization which oversees and audits to verify safety, etc., did well with most recent audit. He also addressed the process of researching a site through TVA (-50), the costs which would be passed on to their customers and the potential of a greater impact to the community with a decision to change locations, potential distribution lines, etc. The main concern of STEMC, Malone explained, is that the current electrical grid is nearing capacity and needs to be expanded before that capacity is reached.
A vote in favor of the amendment would not be an absolute approval of the change; it would only grant approval for STEMC to bring the request before the Henderson Municipal Zoning Board where they would hear and make judgement on the matter. In the event the board requested STEMC conduct further research to find a new site, STEMC would have to go back to TVA and begin again the entire process, a process that could take from one year to 18 or 24 months.
Ultimately, the board approved the first reading of the ordinance amending the text of the Henderson Municipal Zoning to allow Electric Substations as a Use Permitted on Appeal in Residential Districts. In a roll call vote, Aldermen Mark Barber, Keith Smith, Donna Butler and Buel Maness voted yes, with Alderman Jason Rhodes recusing himself due to a conflict of interest (Rhodes is employed by TVA) and Phelps being absent. The board will vote on the second and final reading at next month’s meeting. Each voting member expressed hesitancy in voting yes, but also coming to the same conclusion that the substation would have to go somewhere, the matter needed to be settled before capacity is reached, and there seemed to be no perfect solution.
The board also approved the following with all members present in favor:

  • A resolution approving the 2024-2025 Operations and Capital Expenditure Budget for the Water/Sewer Fund and the Natural Gas Fund
  • An ordinance the first reading, amending the current 2023-2024 Budget to account for ongoing grant projects, including those for the fire department and industrial site
  • A resolution approving an application for a DRA Water Line Project grant with an up-to 15% local match
  • Purchase of a new patrol unit on state contract, for delivery after July 1 and approved advertising for and hiring a new patrolman position, the funding for which had been included in the 2024-2025 Budget.
  • Hiring an architect to complete specifications on replacing the metal roof, sides and gutters on the Utility Operations Building at 60 Record Dr.

In other business, City Recorder Jim Garland discussed the availability of the FirstBank North Branch property, the drive-thru building located beside the city hall. He addressed the possibility of the city purchasing the property to use for property and possibly a short-term rental property at this time with the possibility of using the property for city expansion at a later date. FirstBank is asking $225,000 for the property with an appraisal rate of $190,000. The board unanimously agreed to offer FirstBank the appraisal rate at $190,000, the offer to close July 31.
Utility Director Darryl Greene informed the board that the North Ave. project is nearing completion and will be paved soon.
Public Works Director Carter Scales reported that striping has been added to Church Ave and Garland roadways.
Garland stated a new storm siren was installed Thursday at the Premier Way location.
Finally, work is nearly completed on the Multimodal Grant project.

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