Tennessee town mulls 'stop work order' as construction of controversial grain tanks begins
Saturday, December 3, 2005
Mayor Scott Jewell of the city of Dyer, Tennessee did not issue a "stop work order" to Dyer Grain Company late Tuesday afternoon as had been expected. The order would have temporarily halted construction of new grain storage tanks.
Dyer Grain's efforts at expansion have been blocked several times over the past few years both by zoning restrictions on the height of structures and by citizens groups who filed suit against the grain company and the city's board of zoning appeals. The lawsuit was dismissed two months ago. The Dyer City Council then amended the zoning ordinance to include "grain storage tanks and bins" in a section of the ordinance listing exclusions, such as free standing spires and towers, to the regular 40 foot height restriction on buildings.
Several citizens spoke at the November 28 city council meeting to address alleged deficiencies in the building permit issued to Dyer Grain. The citizens claimed that according to the site plan filed with the application for the permit, the location of the tanks will violate another provision in the zoning ordinance restricting the height of all structures to the distance from surrounding property lines plus ten feet. The citizens were also concerned over a "grain conveyor" that will cross a city street. Mayor Jewell indicated that he would contact the Gibson County building inspector (who is contracted by the city to act as the municipal inspector) to research the citizens' concerns.
Jewell contacted Ricky Bailey, Gibson County Building inspector, on Wednesday. Bailey reportedly could find no deficiencies with the permit and, based on this advice, Jewell chose not to issue the stop work order himself. The City Council could still meet and vote to issue the order. The council meets the second Monday of each month.
"The main problem is that the grain company is in an industrial zone -- which is located smack in the middle of a low-density residential zone." Nathan Reed, an elected Alderman of Dyer said, "The property values in the area have increased (with inflation) but not at the same rate as other properties."
Normal buildings, such as offices and warehouses, can't exceed 40' plus 10' to the eave. The requested change in the ordinance changes the status of the towers from a building to the same status of an antenna or tower.
Mr Reed added, "The height to the eave is 76', the height to the top of the tank is 105', the height to the top of the elevator (atop the tank) is 133'. The 133' is the only measurement that matters now because the change to the zoning ordinance means this is no longer a "building", but rather the same as an antenna or tower."
"The grain company specifically requested that change to the ordinace -- which was opposed by several citizens...They can build it as high as they like so long as it conforms to the overal height restriction for towers, spires, etc."
Mr Reed commented on additional concerns, "The citizens are concerned about the health effects of (additional) grain dust, noise, and grain explosions."
The new construction is expected to generate annual property tax revenues of $10,000 to $16,000.