By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) --The major players still aren't talking. But state records are raising new questions about whether Bradley County is competing with Hamilton County to land a company's distribution center and more than 1,000 jobs.
Could this be a different proposal altogether? Is one company hedging its bets? Or is that company seeking to build two separate facilities?
Bradley County's Industrial Board has filed for an Aquatic Source Alteration Permit with Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation, seeking to modify a 70-acre site at the southeast corner of I-75 and Lauderdale Memorial Parkway.
The owner's representative, Seefried Industrial Properties of Atlanta, is the same representative of record detailed in Hamilton County's application to modify a wetland in the Enterprise South Industrial Park, adjacent to Erlanger Medical Center's new facility and across from the new Volkswagen Assembly plant.
Both proposals call for a distribution center of more than 1 million square feet. Both were filed with DEC November 9th. Hamilton County's proposal states that the un-named applicant wishes to occupy its facilities within a year.
"That's the way it is most of the time," Mayor Claude Ramsey told reporters Wednesday. "Everybody's in a hurry."
Ramsey has declined to name the company in question, saying only that the company could announce its plans Thanksgiving Week.
"If they come or not, it's a wake up call that we need to look further ahead than what we have," says real estate broker Bill Raines.
"We put a lot of energy into getting jobs. Now we need to look at all those things that those responsibilities bring, such as public transportation, storm water, better sewers, better schools," says Raines.
Raines believes that civic leaders and businesspeople should develop a 50-year-plan for growth, to make sure that infrastructure improvements are made before they are over-burdened.
Analyst Kim Hill, with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI, spotted one major bottleneck during a recent visit to the VW plant site.
"It (VW) is gonna create a huge amount of traffic," Hill says. "Anybody who sets up shop next door is gonna have a hard time getting their trucks in and out."
Enterprise South's proposed distribution center calls for truck parking, and loading, accessible to Volkswagen Drive via three direct routes and one round-about.
"I think the private sector will respond very quickly," Raines says. "There are things such as impact fees where we ask some of these new employers to do some of the heavy lifting; pay for traffic studies, or to compensate the schools for the impact of their growth."
Raines believes leaders need look no further than Atlanta or Los Angeles, for cautionary tales of how NOT to manage growth.
"They bring up some images (traffic, social inequities) that we don't want in Chattanooga."