BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - As construction continues at two development sites along Interstate 81, the controversy surrounding them continues.
The project in Bristol, Virginia, known as The Falls, has met some obstacles, and now city council is asking its peers across the lines for some help.
Bristol, Virginia City Council passed a resolution asking for support from Bristol, Tennessee to stand up to the developers at the Pinnacle project off of Exit 74. "We're just asking them to say, 'Look, if you're putting money in this project and if you have any control whatsoever over that developer, then it's time to step up to the plate and support us.' We want them to say, 'Stop what you're doing with the lawsuits, and the actions, and all of this'," says Bristol, Virginia Mayor Guy Odum.
But when it comes to taking action, Bristol, Tennessee Mayor Michelle Dolan says there's not a whole lot City Council can do. "Our involvement with the project at Exit 74 is basically limited to infrastructure and sewers. That's really the only things that we can control. We can't step in with a private developer and tell them what they can and cannot do," she said.
At the center of this controversy is Steve Johnson, the President and Owner of Johnson Commercial Development, the company putting The Pinnacle together. We asked Johnson if he's fighting the Falls project at Exit 5; he says no.
Johnson says he was against an original piece of legislation related to the project in Virginia because he says it would have an impact on 250 acres of his land in Washington County, Virginia, just across the state line from The Pinnacle, but Johnson said he never fought the recent bill brought forward by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Johnson says he's not doing anything to stop competition. "Maybe they need somebody to blame, and if they want to blame me for protecting my land, then blame me. I can't help that," he said.
But Bristol, Virginia says that's not the case. "We believe that the whole purpose of this is to delay our project, to keep Cabela's from being built [in The Falls]", adds Odum.
Johnson says his project is on track to have the first store open by August 2014. Odum says he's hoping The Falls project will open sometime in 2015.
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