Tank Farm at National Tobacco Plant Approved


Dresden Planning Commission

SITE PLAN - Dresden Planning Commission members look over a site plan for an expansion at a local business during their Sept. 29 meeting.



The Dresden Planning Commission met on Thursday, September 29th at the Dresden Civic Center to discuss a site plan for a project that involves installing chemical storage tanks on property owned by National Tobacco (Turning Point Branch).

The plant is located at 201 West North Street inside the Old Kellwood building.

Steve Pachall, director of operations for National Tobacco, said, “Presently, the chemicals arrive in 55-gallon drums, which are stored inside the plant, but with the above-ground tanks, it would be safer for our employees.”

The project calls for installing two 15 ft. tall storage tanks inside of a building that will be constructed adjacent to the plant. The proposed tank farm would be located on the northwestern portion of the property.

The chemical will be siphoned from the tanks located outside the tobacco plant to inside the building, rather than having the chemicals stored in the processing area.

According to Community Planner Donny Bunton from the Northwest Tennessee Development District, National Tobacco owns the entire block on which their facility sits, which consists of three properties. These properties are zoned M-1 (Light Industrial) and they have a combined area of approximately 3.1 acres. Bunton said, “It appears that the property has adequate access to water and sewer services.”

Bunton noted that the Zoning Ordinance allows adjacent properties under the same ownership to be considered one property for zoning purposes.

The property is partially located in a designated flood hazard area, but the tank farm would not be located within that designated area, Bunton explained.

Additionally, National Tobacco is proposing constructing new sidewalks on the north side of their building, but site plan approval is not required for that aspect of the proposal, according to Bunton.

When it came to a vote, the site plan was approved with Chairman Tommy Moore, Joyce Hurt, Kenneth Moore, Allen Strawbridge, Dick Tidwell and Mayor Jeff Washburn all voting in favor of the motion. Mike Youngblood was absent for health-related reasons.

According to Pachall, National Tobacco’s two-to-three-year plan involves constructing a warehouse at the plant, which would create 10-15 new jobs. He stated building expansions are planned for the North West Street location and the building on Sharon Hwy 89.

“We appreciate Mr. Pachall making an investment in Dresden,” Mayor Washburn said. “We know, a few years ago, they were talking about moving out of Dresden, but after we talked to them, they made a commitment to stay here. Now, they’re making additional commitments to upgrade their facilities.”

“It’s turned out to be a great partnership,” Pachall said.

Rebuilding After the Storm

“Sam Bone contacted me a couple of weeks or so ago, and they’re talking about making improvements at the facility where Weakley County Gas and Oil was located,” Mayor Washburn said. “They’re talking about rebuilding after the storm and everything is going to go back pretty much the way it was.”

The mayor stated one of the tanks previously located on the stands was ruptured by the tornado. However, the new tanks are going to be buried underground, which will be safer.

Bunton informed the commission that the project does not require planning commission approval, because it’s basically going back on the same footprint.

“They’re talking about constructing a small utility building and making an additional entrance at the top of the hill on Jones Street,” Mayor Washburn said.

Bunton stated the new driveway would meet zoning requirements. The only question Bunton had was if the parking will be adequate. Mayor Washburn noted there are normally only a couple of vehicles parking there.

Kenneth Moore inquired if the BP gas station is going to be rebuilt.

Mayor Washburn stated, after speaking with the owner, it’s his impression that plans call for demolishing the current structure and building a convenience store that sells fuel farther back from the road.

Tommy Moore noted there are strict EPA requirements that must be met when removing fuel tanks.

Kenneth Moore stated EPA regulations also apply at the lot formerly occupied by Eddie’s Service Station, located on the corner of West Main and Church Street.

“If somebody buys that land, something’s going to have to be done about those tanks,” Moore said.

Mayor Washburn stated the fuel tanks would have to be dug up and soil samples taken. He noted they are required to get a permit and have the work inspected.

Tommy Moore explained three feet of sand must be placed at the bottom, top and sides of the hole where the old tanks were located in order to meet EPA requirements.

Tommy Moore mentioned that Vaughan Brothers Hardware, which was destroyed in the tornado, is in the process of being rebuilt.

Mayor Washburn added the walls of the metal-framed structure have already been erected.

Other Business

Joyce Hurt stated she noticed storage buildings are being placed in front and sides of houses around town since last December’s tornado, and questioned if this is a violation of the city’s building code.

Bunton informed the commission the code stipulates that no accessory building shall be located in front of a house. However, a storage unit may be placed on the sides of a residence, providing it’s behind the front wall of the house and located inside the required setback. Bunton added storage units are normally placed behind a residence.

Mayor Washburn asked Hurt to make a list of these locations.

At the mayor’s request, Bunton agreed to provide the commissioners with a written document explaining the requirements for storage buildings.

Dick Tidwell asked about a single-wide trailer setting on a lot on East Main in an R-2 Zone (multi-family residential zoning district).

“That is a travel trailer placed there by the disaster people,” Mayor Washburn said.

With no further business, the meeting adjourned.