There was a reunion atmosphere at the Warren County Courthouse on Friday as magistrates and Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon met in person for the first time since March 25.
Observing mask-wearing and social-distancing protocols brought about by the coronavirus pandemic that had forced four months of meetings to be held virtually, magistrates approved the first reading of a rezoning for a large residential development in the Alvaton area, approved issuing industrial revenue bonds for a possible Dollar General distribution center and signed off on some coronavirus-related spending items.
Although they were spread out more than normal in the courtroom, Buchanon and the magistrates welcomed the chance to meet in person.
“I was ready for this,” said Second District Magistrate Tom Lawrence. “It was just nice to be around other people. I think it was handled well, with everybody wearing masks and sitting probably 7 or 8 feet apart.”
“I believe everyone prefers to meet in person,” Buchanon said. “It’s easier to read implied feedback or body language regarding agenda items. It did work out well today.”
Despite an increasing number of cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, Sixth District Magistrate Ron Cummings said it was appropriate to get back to meeting at the courthouse instead of by Zoom videoconference.
“The way I look at it is: You have the courthouse open to the public now, so why not meet in person?” Cummings said. “There were probably 10 or 12 people in the courtroom, and everybody observed social distancing. It was nice to get back to a little bit of normalcy.”
The magistrates quickly moved through an agenda that included approving on first reading a rezoning that clears the way for a 45-acre, 167-lot subdivision in the Alvaton community that met with some resistance when the City-County Planning Commission considered it earlier this month.
After hearing objections about the density of the development and possible traffic problems from residents near the Old Scottsville Road site, the planning commission voted 8-2 on July 2 to recommend for approval the subdivision being put together by developer Michael Vitale and his newly formed VISAAC LLC.
Friday’s first reading at fiscal court passed in a 6-0 vote.
The magistrates also approved issuing industrial revenue bonds of up to $30 million for a possible industrial building to be used by Dollar General’s new DG Fresh affiliate that has begun distributing fresh groceries to Goodlettesville, Tenn.-based Dollar General’s stores.
The prospective development fits with Dollar General’s evolving strategy of self-distributing groceries to its stores. The company has announced that DG Fresh is planning to increase its warehouse count from five to up to 10 and serve 12,000 stores, up from 6,000.
“Dollar General is currently in a due diligence phase for a new cold storage facility located in Bowling Green,” Dollar General Public Relations Representative Mary Kathryn Colbert said in an email. “This means we are reviewing the opportunity to add a new facility in the area, but we have not committed to doing so quite yet.”
The magistrates also approved a number of spending items Friday, including some related to the pandemic that should be reimbursed through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Among them:
- $3,040.83 to Crowd Control Warehouse for crowd control fencing for the county parks and recreation department.
- $2,600 to Nashville Tent & Awning Co. for courthouse tent rental.
- $8,120 to Stewart Richey Construction for water faucet replacements at Griffin and Buchanon parks.
- $2,613 to Bowling Green Machine & Welding for gate replacement at Phil Moore Park.
- $5,072.01 to Clarke Mosquito Control for mosquito spray.
- $7,550 to Vine and Branch for yearly preventive maintenance at the gymnasiums at Ephram White, Buchanon and Phil Moore parks.
- $4,040 to Bobby Rabold for a Path-Guard fogging machine to be used at the Warren County Justice Center.
- $11,848.91 to Dell Computer for a server, battery backup and related equipment at the Public Works building at 1141 State St.
- $2,935.04 to Scotty’s Contracting and Stone for additional seeding on the Beech Bend Road widening project.
- $54,640 to Scott & Ritter for a failure discovered during construction of the Aquarius Way storm sewer remediation.
Buchanon said plans call for the next fiscal court meeting, scheduled Aug. 7, to also be held in person. But that could change, he said.
“If COVID cases continue to rise and hospitals experience overcrowding, then we will revisit the in-person meeting,” Buchanon said. “We can return to Zoom-based virtual meetings without any costs or delay.”