Possible expansion by Snap-On may get some support from Elizabethton City Council, County Commission

John Thompson • Updated Dec 11, 2018 at 7:49 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Officials with the city of Elizabethton and the Carter County government are enthusiastic about news of a potential expansion of the Snap-On Tools facility on the eastern end of the city.

Jon Hartman, director of planning for Elizabethton said the expansion Snap-On is considering includes a 6-acre tract of land that would provide space for an expansion of operations, including an additional 20 new jobs.

The undeveloped land is currently a part of the Matheson property, and was formerly an aluminum extrusion facility that had been operated by several companies before it was eventually acquired by Alcoa and closed.

While there was a lot of industrial activity on the old aluminum extrusion plant, these acres were apparently never developed and have remained grass fields separating Snap-On from the Matheson building. The 6 acres Snap-On is considering are on the State Line Road portion of the property.

As part of Snap-On’s decision on whether to purchase the land, the city and county may agree to conduct a due-diligence study examination of the 6 acres. That would include a geotechnical study and a Phase I environmental survey of the land. The proposal is for the city and the county to share the cost of this study, which would amount to $6,500 each government.

It won’t be the first time local governments have done studies of the Matheson property in order to market the holdings. The Carter County Tomorrow joint city and county economic development organization has been marketing the property and last year paid for an environmental study on the developed portion of the property.

Hartman presented the proposal to the Carter County Commission’s Budget Committee Monday evening. The commissioners were enthusiastic about supporting the project and will recommend it to the full commission the expenditure of not more than $6,500 for the study. The County Commission will meet on Monday.

Commission Chairman Ray Lyons attended the meeting and said “I think this will show our confidence in the company. … It is a step in the right direction.”

Budget Committee members said the 6 acres may eventually mean the expansion will be bigger than just 20 new jobs.

Hartman said the city and county’s contribution will also pay for a survey of the subdivision of the 6 acres from the 9-acre holding and provide a legal description of the property boundaries needed for a real estate sale. In his memorandum to County Mayor Rusty Barnett and Lyons, Hartman wrote: “We believe this is a great opportunity for Elizabethton and Carter County to gain additional manufacturing and base-export jobs at a very low cost, comparatively, and feel confident that this acquisition will lead to additional opportunities for Snap-On to expand locally for generations to come.”

The Elizabethton City Council will consider the matter at its next meeting Thursday night. Hartman recommended the engineering firm of Mattern and Craig be used for the study. That agency had previously conducted the surveys on the developed sections of the property for Carter County Tomorrow’s marketing effort.

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