Bristol, Tennessee Mayor Trish Bane can now declare that her city is “open for business” again, now that the $2.87 million lawsuit against 9 of her own residents has frightened the citizens into dropping their lawsuit against the city. On September 27th, we reported that the Mayor had filed the lawsuit against “The Bristol Nine”, a group of residents who were part of the Citizens for Responsible Growth. The citizen’s group had the nerve to challenge a rezoning of land for a Wal-Mart supercenter. The city promptly hit them with a lawsuit. I received a note from the CRG October 3rd which simply read: “We have withdrawn the appeal.” In other words, it took less than a week for the citixens to drop their case under threat from the city’s legal action against them. According to the Bristol Herald Courier, Wal-Mart’s superstore
site plan is back on a fast track now that the rezoning of the Volunteer Parkway site is unchallenged. Work on the 200,000 s.f. superstore could begin early next year. To the rear of the site are more than twenty homes, who have about nine months to try to sell their properties and get out. But the city is not completely icing out the homeowners. They are actually going to allow residents to view the Wal-Mart site plans. One CRG member told the paper: “The city told us that two people from our group could look at the plans, and
we look forward to that.We plan to continue to look after the needs of Bristol citizens in Sunnybrook and Tennessee Hills.” Tip: That site plan is a public document, and can be copied and taken out onto the streets of Bristol to be viewed by anyone on earth who would care to see it.
This has to be one of the most pathetic stories of municipal assault on its own citizens that I have heard of over the past nine years. Can you imagine the city restricting TWO PEOPLE to view the plans at one time! How audacious! What would happen if THREE people were permitted to see the plans? The fact is, officials in Bristol successfully demonized their homeowners for having the nerve to try to defend their homes against a rezoning of land. The parcel Wal-Mart wanted, which was owned by a powerful local businessman, was not zoned correctly. So the city agreed to give one landowner a rezoning, to the detriment of a couple of dozen other landowners — and when abuttors delayed the project by filing a petition, the city struck back. Unfortunately (and understandably) the citizens feared for their financial future, and caved in very quickly. So now Bristol is open for business — but who would want to shop there, or live there, after seeing how they treat their own residents?