Road intent may open development

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By Cindy Simpson

A land owner got the promise he says he needs to draw a retail development to his property in Midtown.

Harriman City Council approved a letter last week saying it is the city’s intent to open Pinnacle Drive, a roadway that stops at an embankment at Pinnacle Pointe, the complex that includes Lowe’s and Kroger and is at the heart of litigation between the city and businessmen Jerry Duncan and Steve Kirkham.

Robert Bowen owns property adjoining Pinnacle Pointe. He said he once had a large shopping development and standalone restaurant set to build on the land.

He said he’s positive that the letter from the city will aid his quest to develop the land.

“That would help us get a buyer,” Bowen said. “It really would.”

Developers submitted plans several years ago to the Harriman Regional Planning Commission for the shopping complex. The inability to connect to the existing shopping complex killed the project, however.

Bowen said those developers had almost every storefront rented.

“I think there were only two or three stores open,” he said.

Bowen believes it’s in the city’s interest to extend the road, a city investment.

“The road has to be completed,” he noted. “The city has a vested interest with the money they put into it.”

Councilman Kenyon Mee agrees the roadway needs to be open, but he questioned whether the council approved doing the work to extend the road and asked that he be provided minutes.

He also said he was hesitant to give Bowen a letter because he worried that Bowen would get a developer and city the wouldn’t extend the road, at least not right away.

“I don’t want him to get a business in there and be coming to council every three months,” Mee said.

“I think it is the intent of everyone here to open it,” Mayor Chris Mason said.

Pinnacle Drive is among several that is part of the ongoing legal conflict between Duncan and Kirkham, the developers of Pinnacle Pointe, and the city over a question of whether the city spent money on private development or in actuality owes the developers.

Harriman officials have said the roads should be deeded over to the city because public money was spent on the infrastructure.

The developers have contended they want payment for the land under which the roadways sit.

A 2007 state investigative audit found the city was owed $234,687 in monies spent on private development.

The developers meanwhile contended they were owed $273,966. They later filed suit in Roane County Chancery Court, and the city followed with a counter-complaint.