Controversial bill could bring big changes to Mid-South Fairgrounds - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Controversial bill could bring big changes to Mid-South Fairgrounds

A controversial bill is making its way through the Tennessee legislature and it's one that could bring big changes to the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

There are new concerns about a deal to push legislation that includes redevelopment of the Fairgrounds.

It all stems from a bill that originally addressed the tax rate for food sales.

Members of the Memphis and Shelby County delegation say they were shocked to learn an amended bill passed in the Senate.

The amended bill was lobbied by local developer Henry Turley to designate the Fairgrounds as a Tourism Development Zone and to earmark millions of federal dollars for his proposed project.

Turley has ideas of building a major retail store like Target.

Local leaders also have a problem that the bill was sponsored by an out-of-towner. State Representative Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley sponsored the bill.

"I don't think a developer should be going to legislature asking for something to be fast-tracked even before the Council or County Commission are made aware of it. This is not the way to do business," says Memphis City Council Member Myron Lowery.

State Representative GA Hardaway adds, "they're still the tax dollars that the public should have some say-so in how they're spent. Not someone who has a personal or professional interest in going forward with a project."

Representative Fitzhugh told Action News 5: "It's not unusual for a legislator outside of a district to pass legislation on another area. My district is in Western Tennessee and I felt it was important and appropriate to sponsor this bill."

Henry Turley did not return our calls. The bill goes before the House on Monday.

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