Carter County planners discuss compliance with property owners over codes

John Thompson • Dec 11, 2012 at 10:12 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Planning Commission once again talked about the long and often frustrating process of getting some property owners to keep their property neat and in compliance with county codes.

Noticing that he had heard previous status reports on many of the property owners, Chairman Steve Pierce asked how long the process took before neighbors could see results of the county’s efforts to make owners keep their properties in code.

Planning staff member Justyn Markland said the process takes several months and requires letters written to the property owner telling him or her they are out of compliance and the penalties they could face if they are summonsed to court.

“I don’t think we have enough teeth,” Planner Mary Ann Patton said of the fines and penalties the owners could receive.

Commissioner Thomas “Yogi” Bowers said he worked as code enforcement officer for the city of Elizabethton before he retired. He said the time limit in the city was usually 10 days.

Planning Director Chris Schuettler said state law gives city governments more powers in those situations than county governments.

The commissioners’ advisor, Glenn Rosenoff of the First Tennessee Development District, agreed with Schuettler and said other counties in the area faced the same schedules.

“I have worked with Washington County and they want to speed things up too,” Rosenoff said.

Schuettler said the process is actually quicker than it was when he first became director 20 years ago. He said the process could be quickened by taking the cases to Chancery Court, but he said the court costs are much higher.

He said Sessions Court Judge John Walton has worked well with the cases the county has brought to him.

“I believe we are making progress,” Schuettler said.

Once again, Planner Steve Chambers called for a study to recommend safety measures on U.S. Highway 19E at the intersection with the access to Valley Forge Elementary School and Valley Forge Free Will Baptist Church. There were also a need for the study to look at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19E and U.S. Highway 321 in Hampton and the long stretch of U.S. Highway 19E from the North Carolina border to the village of Roan Mountain.

Once the study is completed, Chambers called for a public hearing to be held in Valley Forge to discuss the findings and recommendations.

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