Blocked thoroughfare a concern for city officials, business owners

Blocked thoroughfare a concern for city officials, business owners
Blocked thoroughfare a concern for city officials, business owners | Blocked thoroughfare a concern for city officials, business owners
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
It’s been 18 days since Union City firefighters responded to a call at the former KT Distributors building on East Main Street in Union City, resulting in one of the main arteries through the city being blocked.
Fire Chief Kelly Edmison told Union City city council members Tuesday night the fire department received a call of a sprinkler system activation on the evening of Sept. 1.
He said when the fire department arrived on the scene, they did not find a fire, but a roof collapse. He said the roof came through to the third floor and, since they could not tell the amount of damage and since it was almost midnight, they chose to block the street until someone with more knowledge could look at it.
Jimmy Temple, with planning and codes enforcement, told the council he has been in contact with the building’s owner, Emily Elliston, and asked for reports on the building. A meeting has been set for Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. He said he has tried to expedite the matter, but he has to follow the rules which govern condemning the building.
Until the sagging wall can be removed or repaired, it appears that portion of East Main Street will remain closed. Councilman Johnny Bacon, speaking up for several business owners who attended the meeting, said the closure is hurting their businesses.
Public Works director Steve Ladd said he has spoken with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, since Main Street is a state highway, and it is that department’s call as to the closure of the roadway.
Mayor Terry Hailey said he would think TDOT would want the highway open.
Temple said the city has to give Ms. Elliston time to get her paperwork. He said he sent her a certified letter when the incident occurred, but he has not seen any paperwork to date in response. He did say they have been playing “phone tag.”
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison expressed concern over the amount of time it will take, especially if Ms. Elliston decides to make repairs to the building. He asked, “Can we not help her make that decision?”
Temple said she still has rights, adding once she is notified at the meeting that the city is condemning the building, she has 30 days to file an appeal and 120 days to bring down the building.
“So we’re talking next spring,” Hailey said, adding for people with businesses in the area “it will be devastating.”
Bacon asked why they couldn’t at least open up one lane. Temple replied if a lane were opened, there would have to be a barricade. There would also be liability in case of a collapse.
Shifting gears, councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford told Ladd it would be a good time for the railroad company to come in and fix the crossing, since the roadway is already closed.  Ladd replied he has already contacted the railroad company, but “they acted like they didn’t hear me.” Published in The Messenger 9.19.12

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