What about economic development west of the interchange? That was the question developer Lance Holloway posed to commissioners during a called meeting Monday.
Holloway approached commissioners following last week’s newspaper article regarding the county’s submission of a connector road between Highway 121 and Highway 129 as part of the second TSPLOST referendum, which will go before voters next year.
According to Holloway, prior administrations of the county commission had talked with the Holloway family about developing the west side of the interchange in conjunction with expansion on the east side.
Referring to conversations with former County Administrator Milton Futch, Holloway said, “What I was told ... was when the (121-129 connector) project took place, ours would be part of it.”
Holloway said to plan for the proposed future development, he specifically aligned his family property so that an access road would be directly across from the 121-129 connector road. It was also his understanding that Fortner Road would become a frontage road feeding into the access road, with the current steep turn onto Fortner Road being closed off. Additionally, Holloway said, talk centered around construction of a bridge and road extension across Paradise near the Welcome Center. As he talked, he shared with commissioners a schematic designed by Commissioner David Robinson, as well as plans from years back that included notations and suggestions by the Department of Transportation when the project was originally being discussed.
“If you’re going to put that road through that property,” Holloway said of the 121-129 connector, “why not put it through mine?”
Slayde Holloway, who was also in attendance, informed commissioners that while discussions were made with a prior governing body, that group still represented the county. “We’re still dealing with the county,” he said. “Maybe you can help us get back to where we were.”
While County Administrator Bryan Aasheim acknowledged that there were some discussions regarding development west of the interchange in the county’s minutes, he could find no specific commitments to the project.
The proposal was first mentioned in minutes of the May 1, 2006, meeting. However, the agenda for the April 2, 2007, meeting state on the Hwy. 121-129, Fortner Road agenda item that “Mr. (Ralph) Clifton (owner of property impacted by the connector road) withdrew his offer.” The item did not appear on the agenda after this time.
Commissioners told the Holloway brothers on Monday that Chair Glyn Thrift, Robinson and Aasheim will be meeting with State Senator Jack Hill on Thursday about TSPLOST and other related projects and will talk with him at that time about this road as a possible economic development project.