Bartlett selects interim judge, approves subdivision projects

Tim Francavilla
Bartlett’s leaders appointed a new Division 1 municipal court judge and made progress in funding or plans for three construction projects at the Feb. 9 city board meeting.

Tim Francavilla, a Bartlett resident, local attorney and recent special judge for the court, was chosen for the judicial seat from eight applicants.

“I do want to thank the mayor and board of aldermen for showing confidence in my legal ability and making this appointment,” he said. “I do promise you and the citizens of Bartlett I’ll do my very best to make you proud as I take the bench. And I would be remiss if I did not say I do feel honored to take Judge Marr’s former seat.”

He replaces the late Judge Freeman Marr until the November elections. (See story, page 8.)

Elpine Gray Estates

After considering the objections of two nearby residents, Bartlett’s city board approved a first addition to the Elpine Gray Estates planned residential development.

The original development had two stub streets that will be extended on the east and west of this 5.25-acre tract. The approval means the addition of 16 residential lots of about 11,000-14,000 square feet, comparable to the original development’s existing lots, according to Terry Emerick, Bartlett’s director of planning and economic development.

One citizen spoke out against the addition. Kelly Price of Bartlett said he was the first to buy a home in that development in 2007, and he contends that it was sold on the idea it would be an enclosed neighborhood (with limited access) that would have two lakes. He said the lakes are not there, and he is against the street extensions.

“Since the beginning of this subdivision, nothing has come true to it,” he said. “Nothing has come true to what they said it was going to be.”

Bartlett Engineering Director Rick McClanahan said he did not recall any permanent lakes in the master plan, but he added that Price may be thinking of some wet sediment control basins that were converted to dry detention basins after construction was completed in the existing subdivision.

Mayor Keith McDonald also read a letter from Brenda Mellick. She said her property borders the proposed addition, and she opposes it based on human safety, property safety, property value, and environmental concerns.

She is a disabled Navy veteran who purchased this property primarily because it was the last house on the street. She is legally blind because of a hereditary condition, retinitis pigmentosa, and described herself as housebound.

She has a small dog that she walks daily, and she said the lack of cross-traffic in front of her home Elpine Gray Drive is safer for her.

“Any contractors driving past or turning around in my driveway may think I see them,” she wrote. “That would not always be the case.”

She is also concerned about property damage during the addition’s construction.

Her driveway is the closest to the undeveloped property, and she still has a long damaged stretch in her front yard where a contractor turned around and missed the driveway. Her in-ground sprinkler system could also suffer damage.

She said a builder other than the original one, as proposed, might not match the neighborhood’s look well and could also negatively affect property values. (Later in the meeting, the developer offered assurances that the original architectural standards would be upheld.)

If the proposed is approved, she asked that the addition not be clear-cut of all its trees, which add to the value of surrounding homes. She noted that wildlife habitat would also be disrupted. These points were not addressed in the board’s following discussion.

“Having lived through some of the previous construction phase, I’m not looking forward to the noise,” she wrote. “I’m also not looking forward to what so many heavy construction vehicles will do to our freshly paved Elpine Gray Drive. I really do not want to endure the chaos of another construction phase, particularly as it will be right next door.”

Before the board’s vote, vice mayor Jack Young pointed out that no one spoke at the Planning Commission’s public hearing, and the proposed addition is within keeping of the subdivision’s original conditions.

Emerick also said property owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed addition’s boundaries were notified in advance about the proposed additional development.

Sandra Gray, also a resident in the subdivision and a military veteran, spoke in the final public commentary period at the end of the board meeting. She said, “Like Mr. Price said, I don’t think the member of the community got offered the opportunity to give input on this addition to our subdivision because we were not notified. I was not either, until I received a letter from you regarding the meeting tonight.”

McDonald clarified that the letter that Elpine Gray Estates residents received was a form letter from the city, but the developer paid for that notification. He said they also should have received notices about the Planning Commission’s hearing, and the city will check on that.

Gray asked that, if the board’s earlier decision is not reversed, the city will be sure to hold the developer accountable to the subdivision’s standards.

Other business

The board also:

  • Approved more funding in a contract with A2H, a Lakeland-based design and consulting firm. Unexpected utility issues added an extra 103 days of construction inspection for the Bartlett Road Bridge Project, but the project still came in under budget. The additional work will cost the city $14,013.75.
  • Accepted a proposal from Stanfield Consultants to serve as the right-of-way agent for the Old Brownsville Road Widening Project. The cost will be $136,625 plus a contingency amount of $13,375, for a total cost of $150,000.
  • Accepted a $16,755.31 grant from PetSmart Charities Inc. for the Bartlett Animal Shelter and amended the FY2016 grants budget accordingly. The grant pays for supplies that were used to house and care for about 120 pets seized in January.
  • Added $70,000 in grant funds to complete the signal project at the intersection of Memphis Arlington Road and Altruria Road. The Engineering Department secured 100 percent grant funding. The FY2016 capital improvement fund budget and the grants budget were amended accordingly.
  • Approved the auction of surplus property. Four vehicles will be sold on They include a 1996 Ford F-250, a 1999 Jeep Cherokee and a Ford F-150, all from the Parks and Recreation Department. The fourth vehicle is a 2004 Chevrolet Impala from the Mayor’s Office.