The Soddy Daisy board of commissioners formulated a plan at the commission meeting Thursday night to clean up the city. “It is getting worse. We need to stop it at some point or Soddy Daisy will be known as a dirty city,” said Commissioner Gene Shipley. Both Mayor Janice Cagle and Commissioner Shipley said that they hear more complaints about trash, cleaning up yards and excess signs than about anything else.
There are people that rent lots close to their houses to use as a junk yard, said Mr. Shipley. Garbage and multiple old cars sitting on concrete blocks in tall grass are in yards next door to homes that are well kept. Many of these properties are in subdivided neighborhoods with close neighbors, not isolated or out on a highway, it was stated.
“We have ordinances to protect against this” he told the commissioners, and with all the services such as garbage, trash and brush clearing and pickup the city offers, there is no reason that anyone should have a dirty yard, he said. He asked for recommendations on how to go about enforcing the laws on property that is out of compliance with the city codes.
City Attorney Sam Elliott said that officials absolutely can cite them to court. The procedure he recommended the city employ is to identify the 10 worst offenders in the city and have a police officer hand deliver a letter that explains the complaint and conditions the city is requiring. He advised that the letter should be signed for as proof of receipt. That person should be cited to court for each day they are in violation. The maximum fine is $50 for a violation, however, a separate citation can be written for each day a property is not compliant, and a $250 ticket will more than likely get their attention. Those first 10 cases would come before the judge and then the next 10 citations would be given and the cycle would continue. It would be up to the city manager to determine which properties to fine.
“I feel everyone needs a 15-day notice,” said Mr. Shipley. The previous city judge was prone to allowing more time and more often than not, the issue was abandoned. Mayor Cagle said “if it’s an ordinance and on the books, it needs to be followed.”
Commissioner Jim Adams stated that the city could not have “selective enforcement,” but it would need to be applied to 100 percent of the property. Commissioner Patti Skates asked if enforcement would be only on residential property and was told that all city property including commercial would be addressed.
Mr. Shipley emphasized that the purpose of doing this is to clean up the city and not to make it hard for people. He said if the property in disrepair belongs to a resident who is elderly or disabled, the city would help find an organization that could help the homeowner.
Attorney Elliott told commissioners that police officers can issue citations for the ordinances concerning yards; however, a building code inspector would be needed for building code violations. Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to put this plan into effect.
Commissioners also approved a plan required by state law to update the city’s Occupational Safety and Health Program and to provide the position of safety director which is currently held by City Manager Hardie Stulce.
They also voted to re-establish a contract with a $600 cost increase with the company that traditionally has performed the city audits. Brush pickup and grinding that was done on three different occasions at a cost of $6,300 was also approved for payment.
Mr. Stulce provided all commissioners with copies of the extensive paperwork with TDOT that has been executed to make improvements on city streets. This was to demonstrate how “it goes around and around” to accomplish something. After a year and eight months, he told commissioners, he had expected to have some new road signals installed. He said the city has completed everything needed for the improvements on Sequoyah Road, and it is back in the hands of TDOT.
There is now a co-mingling of the utility districts. There is no longer a Soddy Daisy and Falling Water Utility company. The two have merged and become West County Utility, Mr. Stulce announced at the meeting.
He also asked the commissioners for permission for himself and attorney Elliott to seek a permanent easement for land that is currently being leased from TVA for the North Park and for Holly Circle. The city has had possession of the land for 40 years, and has put money into making improvements during that time. Now the parks need to be updated. In the North Park, new benches, lighting and moving the walking trail are needed, said Mr. Stulce. Federal money is available in the form of grants, but there is a requirement that 30 years must be left on the lease to apply for this aid. Soddy Daisy now has only 24 years remaining and would have to re-apply every five years to qualify for receiving federal money for needed work. Mayor Cagle commented, “it’s a no-brainer,” and commissioners voted to approve his request.
In her report, Commissioner Patti Skates reminded everyone that Saturday at 6:30 p. m. the Young Distinguished Women’s’ Pageant (formerly the Junior Miss Pageant) will be held at the Soddy Elementary School auditorium. There will be 24 girls from Soddy Daisy participating. She also said she would like to honor the two students from Soddy Daisy High School who just received an Annenberg scholarship at a future commission meeting. Only five were given in the nation, and two came from Soddy Daisy. Mayor Cagle reminded the board about the prayer breakfast that will take place April 30 at 7 a.m.