Good Morning Lakeland Residents!
It is a busy season in the City of Lakeland, and there continues to be many opportunities for you to be involved in the city’s governance and have your voice heard. To quickly summarize the “headlines” for this week:
Before we look ahead to these items and more, let’s take a look back at last week.
A Look Back to Last Week
Board of Commissioners Special Called Meeting
The Lakeland Board of Commissioners (the Board or BOC) has been very active, shaping the future of the City of Lakeland. The special called meeting last Tuesday was to discuss the official strategic goals of this Board. These strategic goals set the vision guiding the activities of City Staff as we prepare our Annual Budget to support these goals. All five members of the Board were in attendance, as well as each City Staff Functional Director, and the result of this meeting was a resolution passed on Thursday of last week in the regular meeting of the Board to officially document the revised strategic goals of the City of Lakeland’s leadership.
The primary desire expressed by the Board was to continue the projects and priorities set by the previous Board of Commissioners, many of which remain in progress - such as the focus upon completing New Canada Road, sewer interceptor projects, and the City’s communication plan - while shifting the primary focus to public safety, recreation facilities, city planning, and economic development.
- To enhance city planning was an existing goal of the Board, set to ensure completion of the Lakeland P.U.L.S.E. Comprehensive Plan and an update of the City’s land development regulations. In this meeting, the Board clarified their focus of this goal to include addressing resident feedback and ensuring the character of the Highway 70 corridor is maintained.
- Parks improvements was an existing goal of the Board, originally set to focus upon parks services. Given the recent challenges in finding adequate recreational facilities, the Board discussed shifting the focus of this goal to parks facilities improvements, with a desire to consider including recreational facilities in any future plans for the Lakeland Gateway area surrounding Canada Road north of Interstate 40.
- Economic development also remains a goal of the Board, with an expressed desire to diminish commercial development along Highway 70 while aggressively focusing upon the Lakeland Gateway area.
- And finally, public safety was added as a new strategic initiative of the Board of Commissioners. Designed to coordinate with public safety partners to determine and support facility needs, crime prevention awareness and communication, and increased presence within the City of Lakeland, this strategic initiative will focus on -
- Neighborhood watches, lighting and safety in commercial areas, and maintenance of intersections/sight lines
- Adding a new substation in the Lakeland Gateway area
- Utilizing Code Enforcement as a tool for enforcement of property standards and safety protocols
Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting
Last Thursday evening was the regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Clocking in at almost three and a half hours of meeting time, this Board showed their willingness to work diligently for the betterment of our City. Here is a brief summary of the actions taken (while, as always, you can watch the full video on our website using the hyperlink above):
- In the Treasurer’s report, Finance Director Carlin Stuart highlighted the continued growth of sales tax and interest revenues and updated the Board on the status of the City’s debt.
- Lieutenant Jason Valentine of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office provided the monthly crime report to the BOC.
- In my City Manager’s report to the Board, and due to the long agenda ahead, I primarily focused on the hard work and efforts of our February City Staff Superstars – our Public Works crew. The efforts of Director Daniel Lovett and his team – Bobby Carpenter, Michael Reed, Jeremy Culbertson, Daniel Devers, Karenski Porter, Alex Fink, Don Graham, and Nick Akison – were recognized for their hard work performed the week before last during the ice storm.
- Commissioner Jim Atkinson provided an update on the Municipal Planning and Design Review Commission (MPDRC), both the items considered in January and those upcoming in February. Commissioner Michele Dial updated the Board on the January Community Advisory Board meeting. And Vice-Mayor Wesley Wright updated the Board on the January Industrial Development Board meeting and the February Lakeland Board of Education meeting. All meetings referenced can be found at lakelandtn.gov/agendas or on lakelandk12.org.
- Lakeland Municipal Judge Kim Koratsky provided his semi-annual update to the Board on the Court’s activities.
- Three Ordinances updating the Lakeland municipal code were passed unanimously via acclamation by the BOC on second and final reading: Updating the sign regulations to allow for minimum signage and adding a specific exemption for National, State, and municipal flags; amending the code to only allow smoke, vape, and CBD stores in industrial zoning; and allowing for the composition of the MPDRC to be expanded from seven (7) to nine (9) members, should the Mayor choose.
- An Ordinance was passed on first reading with four (4) in favor, one (1) against (Commissioner Connie McCarter). With second and final reading expected in March, this ordinance would allow for a reduction of the minimum wireless transmission (cell) tower setback requirements in cases where the engineered fall radius is reduced.
- An Ordinance amending the budget for increased grant revenues and expenditures (netting to zero impact on fund balance) related to City Hall accessibility improvements was passed unanimously on first reading, with second and final reading expected in March.
- A Resolution sponsored by Mayor Josh Roman and supported by our surrounding municipalities was passed unanimously in support of the State of Tennessee returning to the historic calculation of shared sales tax revenues.
- A Resolution passed up to the Board from the MPDRC was unanimously approved by the BOC amending the Lakeland Meadows Planned Development, reducing their area due to property sold to Lakeland School System, and changing a commercially-zoned area along to Highway 70 to common open space.
- A Resolution was passed unanimously by acclamation establishing March 18, 2023, as the City of Lakeland’s Arbor Day 2023.
- A Resolution was passed unanimously by the BOC to update the residential development contract for Heathfield at Scotts Creek to only include Phase 1 of the development.
- A Resolution was passed unanimously accepting public improvements and reducing the developer’s require security for Heron’s Ridge Phase C1.
- A Resolution was passed unanimously by acclamation approving a work authorization for professional services on the Oliver Creek Sewer Interceptor project.
- Resolutions were passed approving a change order on a pavement marking project [passed four (4) in favor, one (1) opposed (Comm. McCarter)], and awarding this year’s paving contract to Gibson Paving, Inc. (passed unanimously via acclamation).
- A right-of-way agreement was unanimously approved via Resolution with Zayo Group, LLC.
- Three Resolutions were passed (all unanimous via acclamation) related to City Hall accessibility improvements, one for interior improvements, one for exterior improvements, and one updating the agreement with Shelby County for the use of Community Development Block Grant funds on these projects. For the interior improvements, Judge Koratsky spoke in favor of adding additional security measures in the scope of the interior improvements.
- A Resolution was passed setting the official strategic goals of the BOC as the four mentioned above from the Tuesday night meeting, with Commissioner McCarter suggesting retaining the goal of capital improvements as a fifth goal. After discussion, Commissioner Atkinson presented the motion to amend the resolution adding road maintenance as a fifth goal. Both the amendment, and the amended resolution, were approved unanimously via acclamation.
In addition to these actions of the Board last Thursday, the meeting also included several discussion items:
- At Commissioner Dial’s request, I provided an update on the City’s communications plan.
- A discussion item from Commissioner McCarter on Lakeland logo apparel was tabled, pending further clarification between the Commissioner and City Staff.
- Planning Director Paul Luker presented an initial update to the Board in response to a Board request last year for information on what the financial impact may be of starting a building inspection department as a City function.
- A discussion was held on the potential to revise the meeting schedules of the BOC and the MPDRC, allowing for the BOC to hold two regular voting meetings per month, and changing the MPDRC’s meeting schedule to the second Thursday of the month.
- And finally, City Staff completed their presentations to the Board, requested originally by Mayor Roman, of the historical expenditure trends of the General Government and Parks functions, as well as personnel cost trends overall.
Last week, Mayor Roman and I met with representatives from Ritter Communications, the company bringing Right Fiber internet service to Lakeland. With an investment in Lakeland of about $4 million, the company is currently installing fiber in Winstead Farms and Evergreen Hills, with plans to expand service further south in Lakeland in the coming months.
The service installation in these neighborhoods is being done by contractors; however, Right Fiber assured us they are committed to resolve any construction-related concerns of residents. If you have any issues, please call Right Fiber’s construction hotline at 833-565-1994.
Additionally, work is still being done on the Lakeland P.U.L.S.E. Comprehensive Plan and your input is still needed to ensure that our plans take into account all public feedback possible. We’re currently seeking input on the transportation component of the comprehensive plan. Please use this link to provide feedback on your experiences, focused upon the areas of congestion, traffic safety, connections, bike and pedestrian facilities, and intersections.
A Look Ahead
We at City Hall look forward this week to full and robust citizen engagement and participation in our public meetings on Thursday night! There are three of them, back-to-back, and we encourage everyone to attend or tune in online at lakelandtn.gov/agendas.
Industrial Development Board – Special Meeting
The IDB meets in special-called session this Thursday at 5:00pm to consider an Economic Impact Plan (EIP) establishing the Lakeland Gateway TIF. The EIP is promoted by the developer of Ashmont, prepared by Dexter Muller, and verified by Younger & Associates and is anticipated to be published on our agendas page by tomorrow afternoon. The Lakeland Gateway TIF is anticipated to have significant economic benefits to the City, and its boundaries are expected to cover both the northwest and northeast corners of the Canada Road and I-40 interchange, an area already established by the Board of Commissioners as a key area of economic focus and revitalization.
Board of Commissioners – Special Meeting
Immediately following the IDB’s special meeting to consider the Lakeland Gateway TIF EIP, the BOC will meet Thursday at 5:15pm to consider approval of the same. If approved by both bodies, the EIP will be presented to the Shelby County Commission for final approval later this month.
Municipal Planning and Design Review Commission Regular Meeting
As the third act of a busy Thursday night, the MPDRC will meet in regular session at 5:30pm. The MPDRC agenda this week includes:
- A proposed amendment by The Lake District to update their Planned Development to add additional multi-family lots. The Developer, in the January meeting, indicated that these would be age-restricted units, and has completed additional school impact and traffic studies at the request of the MPDRC.
- A sign plan update for Lakeland Town Square is being presented, and City Planning staff is recommending approval of the plan.
- A site plan for Chick-Fil-A in The Lake District is being presented, and staff is likewise recommending approval of the plan.
- A site plan for Dollar General on Highway 70 is being presented. City Planning staff do not recommend approval, due to the recently passed BOC twelve-month moratorium on commercial development along Highway 70.
- An amendment to the by-laws of the MPDRC is being presented, changing the regular meeting time of the MPDRC from the third Thursday of each month to the second Thursday of each month. Related to the discussion last week in the BOC’s meeting, this would enable the BOC to revise their meeting schedule to the first and third Thursdays of each month as regular voting sessions, improving the Board’s efficiency to keep better pace with the speed of development and business in the City.
To Be Continued…
Phew! As these meetings and the actions taken demonstrate, your Board of Commissioners, volunteer board and commission members, and City Staff continue to work diligently to serve our great City of Lakeland! The work is rewarding, and given that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, dare I say a labor of love? Indeed it is, and it is work that is not complete, but to be continued.
As always, remember to check lakelandtn.gov/agendas for meeting times, videos of past meetings, and materials for upcoming meetings, as available. Also, stay plugged in to the City through our website, our social media, and our Lakeland Connect app. And reach out to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Your Service,
Michael Walker, City Manager