The Portland Board of Aldermen approved on second reading during its Jan. 4 meeting planned improvements to three CSX railroad crossings in the downtown area.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will provide 90% of the funding for the upgrades, with Portland kicking in the remaining 10%, or an estimated $138,666.30.

The crossings are at East Market Street, Main Street and East McGlothlin Street.

“We’re very grateful for this project,” said Portland Mayor Mike Callis.

Each crossing site will have new equipment, including crossing arms, lights, and upgrades to the electrical boxes. The crossings will also be made compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act via upgraded pedestrian crossings.

The board pulled from its agenda the proposal to permit accessory dwelling units. Council members voted in December to defer this question until February to allow city planners to examine how other jurisdictions handle this matter.

The council also approved a resolution supporting Portland’s application for a 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) not to exceed $250,000 with a city match of up to $65,000.

Funded by state and federal governments, the CDBG program is designed to help fund projects designed to benefit low and middle-income residents. Portland is eying sewer improvements with the funding, if the grant is received. In 2020, approximately 55% of CDBG proposals were funded.

“These are federal HUD (United States{span} Department of Housing and Urban Development) {/span}funds passed through the Tennessee Department of Economic Development,” said Matt Von Lunen with the Greater Nashville Regional Council.

“One thing we’ve been discussing is telemetry on lift stations,” Callis said. “That would be a big help to the city and a real asset to our community.”

Three rezoning requests were approved, including: changing property on Briley Lane from county rural residential to low density residential, and changing property on Gateview Drive from county rural residential and general commercial service to low density residential.

A change to the definition of a semi-detached dwelling was also approved on second reading.

Commissioners approved the creation of a utility inspector position within the department of utilities.

“We have been splitting up (inspections) within departments,” said Bryan Price, utilities director for Portland. “By having an in-house inspector, we’re looking at some savings on projects, and we’ll be more involved on day-to-day projects.”

A joint application with other Sumner County jurisdictions for a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Urban Transportation Planning Grant received approval from board members.

“We’re looking to do a Sumner County-wide bike and pedestrian multimodal,” said Kealan Millies-Lucke, the interim city planner. “The grant is intended to assist jurisdictions looking to an interconnected community with efficient modes of transportation.”

Board members also approved the appointment of vice mayor Drew Jennings to the West Fork Drakes Creek Dam and Reservoir Interstate Authority and the nomination of Jody McDowell as chairman of the alcohol beverage board.

The Portland City Council is next scheduled to meet on Feb. 1.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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