Good Morning Lakeland Residents!
I pray that everyone who was privileged enough to travel last week on Spring Break had a great time, and made it safely there and back again home to Lakeland! My appreciation goes out to all of our City Staff and volunteers who held down the fort last week and kept City services and business going, especially to Emily Harrell, our acting City Manager last week in my absence.
Here's a brief look back at last week and what is in store for this week.
A Look Back at Last Week
The Municipal Planning and Design Review Commission (MPDRC) met last Thursday 3/16 at 5:30pm. Four of the seven members of the MPDRC were in attendance, which constituted a quorum and the meeting could occur. Present were Carl Helton, Vice-Chair, Amber Hitchcock, Secretary, Adam Henry, and Commissioner Jim Atkinson. Absent were Wyatt Bunker, Chair, Sal Feraci, and Shawn Rowland. Here's a look at what happened (video can always be viewed at lakelandtn.gov/agendas)
- The February MPDRC meeting minutes were approved 4-0
- During public discussion, an attorney for the Martin Tate law firm on behalf of SBA Communications spoke in opposition of the later agenda item to approve placement of a cell tower in Lakeland. The comments addressed proximity to existing towers, the possibility of retro-fitting an existing tower (on the MLGW water tower), a lack of justification for variance from minimum distance requirements between towers, and concerns over visual clutter in the Lakeland skyline.
- Old business included an action item on a site plan for Dunkin Donuts on Highway 64. Originally presented in December, the item came back revised with a plan to freshen the paint and change out their awnings. Planning Director Paul Luker and Commissioner Atkinson spoke to the item with thoughts that this item is more a maintenance item, and not an item for action by the MPDRC. As such, and with the concurring opinion of City Attorney Will Patterson, the MPDRC deferred the item with a vote of 4-0.
- Under new business, the MPDRC considered site plan approval of a cell tower on Highway 64. Following presentation of the technical specifications of the code and a presentation by the applicant, Commissioner Atkinson confirmed with Mr. Luker compliance with all provisions of the code, including public notice requirements. City Attorney Patterson also confirmed that the type of tower proposed was in compliance with distance requirements. Mr. Henry also reiterated prior concerns of the legacy Economic Development Commissions that the Board of Commissioners (and the City overall) prioritize improving wireless service in Lakeland. Following the discussion, Commissioner Atkinson moved to approve the application, which was approved with a vote of 4-0.
- The remaining item on the agenda (Mobil station lighting plan) was moved to the April agenda for April 13, 2023.
A Look Ahead to This Week
Tonight is the scheduled time for the Board of Appeals / Storm Water Board of Appeals meeting. There being no cases before the body, this meeting is cancelled.
Given the scheduling conflicts last week with Spring Break, and that many members of the Parks and Recreation / Natural Resources Board (PRB) are parents traveling with their children, the PRB meeting was moved to this Tuesday evening at 5:30pm at City Hall. Published at lakelandtn.gov/agendas, here's a look ahead at what they'll cover:
- A program update and goal-setting report on the Cheer program
- An update on progress of design and engineering on Phase II of the Lakeland Athletic Complex
- Goal-setting discussion and work progress on the Youth Basketball program
- Updates on Parks and Recreation department divisions (admin, athletics, maintenance, and Senior Center)
The Lakeland Industrial Development Board (IDB) will meet Thursday at 5:30pm at City Hall. The agenda and related materials will be published to lakelandtn.gov/agendas by Tuesday afternoon; however, the business of the IDB this month will include routine approvals of eligible expenditures in the Lakeland Commons TIF District.
In order to keep you informed of what is brewing in the background this week, I thought to give some insight into some other matters we will be addressing this week.
- Public safety continues to be a high priority of the Board of Commissioners. As such, Mayor Roman is working to schedule a meeting with the Tennessee Highway Patrol on improvements to presence and patrols on State-owned highways 64 and 70 in Lakeland. Additionally, I will continue to reach out to our partners at Shelby County Sheriff's Office for updates on their space and location needs in Lakeland.
- Additionally, the Lakeland Gateway TIF District continues to be top of mind for development and re-development of our Gateway area. I will be meeting with our City Attorney this week to discuss and strategize our next steps and options as a City to continue to move this project along, even as we continue to work with the Ashmont developer toward the official development agreement for the Ashmont property within the Gateway TIF.
- Schedule Changes - in case you missed it, starting in April the meeting schedules of both the Board of Commissioners (BOC) and the MPDRC have changed. The BOC will meet on the first and third Thursdays at 6pm in regular voting session, and the MPDRC will meet on the second Thursday at 5:30pm. All meetings have been updated on the website's official calendar.
To Be Continued...
As always, remember to check lakelandtn.gov/agendas for meeting times, videos and minutes of past meetings, and materials for upcoming meetings, as available. Stay plugged in to the City through our website, our social media, and our Lakeland Connect app. Because our work is always to be continued, please reach out to me any time at email@example.com.
In Your Service,
Michael Walker, City Manager