Having done the majority of heavy lifting during their afternoon agenda session, Chattanooga City Council members flew through their agenda Tuesday night, unanimously approving a host of items.
All nine members of the group backed the first reading of an amendment to an ordinance that will require new construction of facilities like nightclubs, bars and late-night event centers to install sprinklers for fire safety. Previously, the ordinance would have applied to already-existing establishments—a proposal that drew complaints from owners of bars and nightclubs earlier in the day.
During their agenda session, the council heard from owners of establishments like Track 29, the Comedy Catch, Mocha and Lamar's Restaurant. All owners said the ordinance as written would be cost-prohibitive and place an undue burden on businesses.
Under the amendment, put forward by Councilman Chris Anderson, existing businesses would not be obligated to install sprinkler systems unless they planned on using pyrotechnics or already had existing fire code violations on record for items such as locked or blocked fire exits or nonpermitted pyrotechnics.
Following the group's vote, Anderson applauded his colleagues for avoiding a rule that would have hurt business.
"I think we took a great step for economic development," Anderson said.
The group also unanimously approved changes to the city's ordinance for special gathering permits, as requested last month by Mayor Andy Berke. The group was briefed on the changes, drafted in response to a pattern of violence occurring at event halls in the city.
In addition, council members unanimously backed Berke's appointment of Barry Teague as city treasurer and scheduled an educational session regarding payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreements (PILOT) for next week. The group is set to vote on a PILOT that would apply to WNA Chattanooga, a thermo-molded plastic cup, plate and bowl manufacturer that plans to expand by adding a $6 million production line and hiring 53 new workers.
Last month, Hamilton County commissioners unanimously approved their portion of the PILOT.
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