published Monday, June 13th, 2011

Bradley Chamber seeks land for industry

By Paul Leach

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—Bradley County needs to reserve land for future industrial growth, a Chamber of Commerce official told planners recently.

“We are trying to identify properties for industrial applications,” Douglas Berry, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of economic development, said last week in a presentation to the Bradley County Regional Planning Commission.

However, Berry said, the county is facing an increasingly limited number of options for industrial usage in its long-range plans. He identified existing and planned residential areas near key transportation arteries as serious concerns.

He recommended earmarking some land parcels near Dalton Pike and the north end of the county for industrial development, thereby giving ample buffer space to future residential development that might share the areas.

Berry said appropriate buffering will minimize conflicts with the county’s residents and increase the odds of bringing industry to the county.

A lot of companies simply refuse to consider locations near residential areas because of insurance liabilities and growth restrictions, he said.

County Planner Corey Divel questioned Berry about potential industrial usage along the southern end of Dalton Pike.

Berry said the areas will need enhanced utilities before they can be developed.

Planning commissioners expressed interest in whether U.S. Highways 64 and 411 could serve as primary transportation arteries to support industrial growth in the county’s eastern reaches.

Berry said his industrial clients do not yet consider either highway as primary transportation routes for their needs.

Commissioner Mel Griffith suggested the redevelopment of the old Whirlpool site as another solution to accommodate future industrial growth.

But Berry said the site will not be reusable as is. He said the county should expect 10 years of costly environmental studies, redevelopment and marketing before a new industrial client occupies that location. Furthermore, he said, Whirlpool is not scheduled to fully vacate the premises until 2015.

Preparation and land preservation are the keys to the county’s long-term growth, according to Berry. He said industries used to take a year to decide on a site, but now they may take only 90 days.

“It reduces the number of legitimate opportunities to create a lot of jobs,” he said. “It’s a reality we need to address.”

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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