Loudon fills city council vacancy

Loudon City Council voted 4-0 Monday to appoint Admiral ‘Bumper’ Webster, right, to serve the unexpired term of Tim Brewster, who resigned in August due to health reasons. Also pictured are Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris, center, and Councilwoman Tammi Bivens, who nominated Webster.

Loudon City Council unanimously Monday appointed retired teacher, coach and veteran Admiral “Bumper” Webster to fill a vacant seat through the November 2022 election.

Councilwoman Tammi Bivens motioned and Councilman Tim Dixon seconded Webster’s nomination during a special meeting following a regularly scheduled workshop.

Webster steps into the role following the resignation in August of Tim Brewster for health reasons.

Webster retired from Loudon High School in May 2020. He was a special education teacher, head softball coach and assistant baseball coach. He owns a floor cleaning business and works at Home Depot. He is retired from the U.S. Air Force.

“He’s very well-respected in our community,” Bivens said.

Under the city charter, council had 20 days to fill the seat or there would be a special election.

Bivens said she talked to many people about the possibility of Webster serving on city council. All of them said “that would be perfect.”

“Everyone that I talked to was very pro — for it,” she said.

Webster didn’t ask to serve, but he will.

“They approached me,” he said. “I will be honored. I’m glad to be doing it.”

Webster will be sworn in and start serving at the Sept. 27 city council meeting.

“I’ve known him all my life,” Dixon said. “We grew up together. ... He’s a real gentleman.”

Council had discussed possibly letting voters decide who should fill the vacant seat on the five-member council, but a special election could cost $10,000-$15,000.

“Welcome aboard, Admiral,” Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris said after the vote.

Council members said they had heard from potential candidates in the 2022 election and were reluctant to appoint any of those candidates to Brewster’s seat.

“I don’t want to give someone the upper hand,” Dixon said.

Although Webster doesn’t plan to run in 2022, Harris said the council can’t prohibit him from becoming a candidate. Webster said he does not plan to run.

Development ongoing

At the beginning of the workshop Monday, council heard a brief presentation from developer Rick Dover about potential mixed-use development along the downtown waterfront.

The development could be on about 12 acres owned by Loudon on both sides of U.S. Highway 11. Loudon could transfer the property to the industrial development board, which would work out the details, Ty Ross, Loudon city manager, said.

The primary focus would be building residential units downtown and adding density without sacrificing green space and walking trails, Dover said. The mixed-use project could add 230 new units and include commercial space, playgrounds, parks, walking trails, tree-lined streets and a cafe next to the water.

Work could start in the first quarter of 2022 and be complete in two to three years, Dover said.

Loudon officials plan to have a public meeting about the project possibly in the fall. The city purchased the riverfront property a few years ago and tore down the old Hutch manufacturing plant. Potential developments could include condominiums, apartments and mixed-use areas with retail shops on ground floors and apartments above.

Dover said he has financing lined up for the project.