published Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Jasper changes sewer line route after complaints

Billy Simpson, the mayor of Jasper, Tennessee
Billy Simpson, the mayor of Jasper, Tennessee
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — When city officials announced last month a new sewer line extension route as part of their plan to annex the area known as Shellmound Business Park, some of the affected business owners expressed concern to the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The original route for the sewer line took it mostly along the north, or "airport side," of U.S. Highway 41, but the annexed area is on the south side.

Business owners complained that route would cost them extra money to connect to the sewer because they would have to tunnel under the highway to reach it.

In September, the board instructed Gary Cosby of CTI Engineers Inc. to redesign the route so it would stay on the south side of the highway as much as possible.

The redesign will cost the city an additional $4,800, officials said.

This week City Attorney Mark Raines said the route change will involve getting easements from about 27 property owners.

"One of the things that is contingent on us being able to put the sewer line on the south right-of-way of Highway 41 is all of the landowners have to agree to give an easement to the town," he said.

Mayor Billy Simpson said the city is "in the process" of contacting each of the affected property owners so they can look over the easement documents.

"If they want to take the easement documents and take them to their attorneys for review, we're in complete agreement with that," he said. "Everyone seems to be in agreement so far. It's been re-engineered from start to finish. It's laid out and ready to go on the south side [of the highway]."

If just one of the affected property owners does not agree to give the city an easement to construct the sewer line along the new route, it will complicate matters greatly, officials said.

"Going back now is not much of an option," Cosby said. "When the decision was made to move [the sewer line], that's the way it was on the applications to [the Tennessee Department of Transportation] and everyone else."

If a property owner refuses the easement, the city could be forced to use eminent domain, he said, and "I hope it doesn't come to that."

Under eminent domain, the city would take the land and compensate the owner at fair-market value.

Officials plan to take photographs and video before the sewer line project begins so they can restore the areas that are damaged during construction.

"If that's what is in front of the business, that's what will be replaced," Raines said. "They're not going to cut a concrete slab and patch it back with asphalt."

Photos and video also will be taken after the line's installation so "if there's any question about what was there before or if something got damaged" there will be documentation to settle the issue, he said.

Jasper will annex 35 parcels of land between U.S. 41 and Interstate 24's exit 158 in January to make way for the construction of a Love's Travel Stop and Country Store in the area known as Shellmound Business Park.

Love's plans to open in July 2013, officials said.

"It's a tight schedule," Cosby said. "It always has been, but we're still on schedule."

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