ROGERSVILLE - The
developer of the Park Place Boulevard Planned Unit Development has until May 31 to pave the
project's street. In a called meeting, that attracted a rare audience of
spectators, the Rogersville Planning Commission voted Tuesday to give developer Jonathan Lawson the
May deadline. The commission also directed that a portion of the sale price of unsold housing
units should be "escrowed" to pay for the application of a smooth final coat of asphalt if
Lawson does not meet his obligation. The housing development is located off
Park Boulevard, behind Hardee's. In 2009, Lawson told city officials the
project was to consist of 29 homes, each approximately 1,200 square feet in size. While many
of the residences are occupied and others on the market, two are nothing more than foundations and
in other places there is vacant property only occupied by weeds. Parts of the street in the
neighborhood have rough pavement, with large gravel covering the surface.
Rogersville City Attorney Bill Phillips told the group that in July he attended a planning
commission meeting where residents lodged numerous complaints about the PUD. At that meeting
he was instructed to take action to make Lawson finish the street. "All of
this sounded familiar and so I got to looking back in my files and found that the town of
Rogersville, through the building inspector, had issued a citation against Mr. Lawson. That was
for allowing someone to occupy one of the units up there without a certificate of occupancy,"
Phillips said. Following a hearing in municipal court, the attorney said it
was ordered"that the road surface should be completely paved with a finished coat of asphalt no
later than 30 days of the completion of Park Place project, and in any event not later than July 30,
2011." "It still hasn't been done and I got a call from Mr. Nelson, the
building inspector, that Mr. Lawson had requested another certificate of occupancy and I said just
withhold that certificate of occupancy and we'll get that road paved," Phillips
explained. "We need some assurance that this road is going to be paved and that
this development is not going to be built and walked off from and the city end up bearing the
expense of finishing this road," Phillips added, noting that any paving will have to wait until
next year. "I want to insure that it is going to be done." Attorney
Larry Boyd, representing Lawson, claimed there had been no contact from Phillips regarding the
road. Boyd also said that the concerns addressed by several residents at a
July planning commission meeting, other than the street, have been addressed.
"The roadway has two coats of asphalt on it. There is a finish
coat yet to be done but you still have about 10 or 11 sites that are not competed, some of them
haven't even been started. The last thing you want to do is put a final coat of asphalt and
then have a cement truck, concreted truck or another big truck to come in there and damage your
road. Logically, the final coat should not be done until you finish the project," Boyd
explained. Lawson said completing the street surface would cost approximately
$32,000 and also inquired about the possibility of damages. "If it is paved
and then I go in there and finish seven more units and the road is damaged, who is responsible
then? Who is going to have the road repaired?" Lawson inquired.
Building Inspector Steve Nelson, who has completed residential developments in the county as
well as serving as a contractor, said the individual who causes some type of damage is usually
responsible for repairing that damage. "Every subdivision I did the road had
to be completed before any lots were sold or anyone moved in. If a road was damaged after it
was completed because I was building a house, I had to fix it back," Nelson said.
Planning commission members, Lawson and several individuals attending the meeting also
discussed a yet to be finished retaining wall that one resident complained is allowing his back yard
to remain nothing but mud. Lawson said he had discussed the problem with
Patrick Lund, of Hawkins County Gas, and the water runoff was coming from the gas utility's
buildings. "They (Hawkins Gas) are going to fix the problems and divert the
water and in 60 or 90 days we should be able to have that retaining wall in place," Lawson
promised. Wednesday morning, however, Lund said that there was no agreement
with Lawson because the water problem was not coming from the gas utility's
buildings. "Any water runoff problem he (Lawson) has is not coming from us,"
Lund explained. "So we're not involved in that problem or any solution."
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