The Hamblen County Commission approved Thursday night the purchase of property close to the current justice center to allow for expansion as the county prepares for construction of a new jail.
The commission voted 10-3 to purchase four properties across Alison Street, following the same vote last week by the Jail Study Committee.
Commissioners Jeff Akers, Tim Goins and Wayne NeSmith voted no.
The commission also voted 10-3, with the same commissioners voting no, on the purchase of a capital overlay note for $1.5 million, which will help pay for acquiring some of the properties across Alison Street and design fees.
Goins said he felt the commission was “putting the cart before the horse.”
“I think we should table this,” he said.
Goins has been a proponent of moving a new jail off the site adjacent to the current justice center, saying he does not feel like there is enough land at the property to be feasible. The commission voted earlier this year to keep the proposed jail in the vicinity of the current justice center.
The new areas being acquired will help with the expansion of the jail and County Mayor Bill Brittain said the sites being purchased will be used mainly for parking.
The properties are the Gibbons property, Hodge property, Pleasantview Properties and the law offices of Wayne Stambaugh. Brittain told commissioners he was in the process of also negotiating with the Morristown and Emergency Rescue Squad on acquiring its properties.
Moseley Architects, based out of North Carolina, is handling the design of the new jail.
Last week, Brittain said the architects had given the county two proposals that were inadequate and the county is waiting on a third draft.
The commission also voted 12-1 on the appointment of Bill Hicks to the Hamblen County Planning Commission. County Commission Chairman Howard Shipley voted no.
Before the vote, Shipley said his vote didn’t reflect anything on Hicks, but said he felt the planning commission was “stacked” too much toward one side of the county versus the other.
He said there are five commissioners and on the board from the west side, compared to two on the east side. He brought up that the late Commissioner Louis “Doe” Jarvis had raised questions about this.
“I think we’re setting a bad precedent,” Shipley said.