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Town ordinances need enforcement ‘teeth,’ residents say

How difficult is it for the Town to enforce compliance to its ordinances?

That is the question Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen considered at its meeting, Thursday, July 9.

According to Interim Town Administrator Gary Palmer, the Town has had an increasing number of complaints regarding abandoned and foreclosed homes.

“We have a very comprehensive, very restrictive property maintenance code; however, our ability to enforce that code is limited,” Palmer said.

“If you don’t enforce it, it doesn’t mean anything,” he added.

The most the Town’s judge could do is fine violators, at most $50 per day per violation from the time they are notified of said violation.

Alderman Jeff Elliott said the $50 fine “would not stop someone from jaywalking.”

Residents of several subdivisions around Farragut addressed the Board about specific property maintenance problems.

“We have compliance issues: several houses have been abandoned,” John Paul Renier, Village Green homeowners association representative, said.

One home off East Fox Den Drive has been abandoned for more than 10 years, Renier said, calling the lot a “mini jungle” and adding animals were living in the home.

“We have problems and problems,” he said. Elliott said homes such as these become a safety issue for neighbors.

“I don’t think Village Green is unique. … This is a great place to live in but we have a problem here,” Renier said.

Fort West residents also described several homes in their subdivision, including one with birds living in the home’s walls and in which a vagrant took up residence.

“We want to be proud of where we live … If you’re going to live in Farragut, you need to take pride.

“Something needs to be done,” Town resident Jim Caldwell said.

“This is something the Town needs to address in standpoint of maybe having its own police force, I don’t know,” he added.

Town Attorney Tom Hale said state law allowed the Town to demolish derelict homes and auction the property, and said he needed to study state law for a similar mechanism that allows the Town to complete property maintenance.

“When people don’t want to follow the law … it’s not easy to do something about it,” Hale said.

Some subdivisions could have the ability to put liens on homes, Hale said, but others with no covenant restrictions could not.

Palmer said he was not sure if the Town could post liens either.

“We get to the point where our hands are tied,” he said.

Hale said the Town currently does not have the ability to solve all these problems, but could perhaps team up with homeowners association to apply pressure to violators.

But ultimately, “We’re going to have to have a police force if we’re going to solve some of these problems,” he said.

Williams asked subdivision residents if they would support a property tax to provide enforcement of these ordinances, perhaps through a police force. He received unanimous support from the audience.


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