Jim Cutler

Catoosa County District 3 Commissioner Jim Cutler voices concerns to the Ringgold City Council about potential truck traffic along Battlefield Parkway during an Aug. 28 meeting. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

The Ringgold City Council recently approved a variance request for a local trucking company to park trucks and tractor-trailers at a lot off Battlefield Parkway despite traffic concerns from a select group living near the lot.

Local businessman Alvin Mashburn says he struck an agreement in January with MB Carriers to park some of its trucks and trailers on a stretch of his commercial property just south of exit 350.

"It's for commercial truck parking on the lot off Battlefield Parkway," Mashburn said. "MB Carriers is currently leasing from us to park six to eight trucks, and maybe 10 trailers."

Catoosa County District 3 Commissioner Jim Cutler spoke during the public hearing after receiving feedback from a group of people who live near the lot.

"I'm here representing myself and some of my constituents," Cutler said. "I got some phone calls from people asking why we're allowing trucks to park in that one area. That area of 2A is served by Ellis Springs Road, Fowler Road, Gilbert Road and Hidden Trace. The concern is traffic with trucks pulling in and out. We already have traffic from Junior's lumber and the two daycare centers there. People pull down and make u-turns to get down to the Hampton Inn. Soon they'll be doing the same thing to get to the new Farm to Fork we hope, and of course, they're planning a second hotel there."

Cutler said some residents are concerned about safety.

"The biggest concern from the calls I've gotten are from the people emptying out on 2A in that area and the increased truck traffic. I've had several calls asking that this not be allowed. There's no signage, there's no stop lights to warn people when trucks may be coming in and out."

Cutler says the traffic could affect him personally because he lived on Hidden Trace, but added that his main reason for speaking on the matter was as an elected official.

"I told my constituents that I'd speak for them," he said. "There are subdivisions and quite a population living in that area."

Mashburn wasn't thrilled with the opposition, stating that the land is specified for commercial use.

"I'd just like to bring to your attention that that 10 acres is commercial property, and this is just a little bit of what's going to happen there," Mashburn said. "Sooner or later I'm going to sell that to some big organization. It's going to be a big trucking terminal and you're going to see hundreds of trucks and all kinds of stuff. ... That's commercial property. For you (Cutler) to come down here and complain about five trucks is pitiful."

Mashburn told the council he'd sell it to the city to do with as the city wishes.

"That's commercial property, you know. ... If you guys want to buy it, that's fine. ... I'll take $1.3 million for it and you can do whatever you want to do with it," he said. "It's commercial property, it's ready to build on: sewer, water, gas, everything, and I pay over $20,000 a year in taxes on that property."

Cutler reiterated that his main focus was doing his job as a representative of District 3.

"I represent a district," Cutler said. "I've gotten calls from citizens asking me to do something about it, and that's exactly what I'm doing. I feel obligated to represents those people. That's why we're all elected. They have to turn to somebody. And if it turns into a big commercial trucking terminal, I'll probably be standing here before you again."

The trucking company leasing the property from Mashburn says that the trucks have specific runs, mostly to Roper Corporation in LaFayette, and that the trucks are usually only traveling through the area during the early morning hours between 3 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., and are usually back and parked by 3 p.m.

Mike Hetfield, president and CEO of MB Carriers, said the agreement includes a maximum of six trucks and 10 trailers that can be parked at the site. The lease between Mashburn and the trucking company is also open-ended, meaning that both sides have to give each other 90 days notice if they plan on ending the pact.

"As far as the traffic impact, it's almost nil, Hetfield said. "We have trucks that make daily runs, and they leave out anywhere from 3 to 6 (a.m.), or 6:30 (a.m.), and that's by design because we want to get through Chattanooga, and two trucks trying to get to Nashville, ahead of rush hour."

The council unanimously approved the variance, contingent on it being specific to MB Carriers. If they were to move or dissolve the agreement with Mashburn, he would have to request a new variance if he wished to lease it out to a new company for similar use.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.