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Carter Planning Commission litter complaints upheld in court

John Thompson • Feb 27, 2019 at 11:36 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A chancellor ruled Wednesday against the owners of five parcels the Carter County Planning Commission argued were in violation of the Carter County Litter Regulations.

These properties have been before the Planning Commission for a lengthy period because of the alleged violations.

After hearing testimony in the five cases, Chancellor John Rambo ruled in each case that the properties had “not been maintained in a manner which the public welfare requires.”

He continued that, “Despite repeated notices of the ongoing violations, the defendants have failed to place the property in a condition which would be in compliance with the the Carter County Litter Regulations. The Court hereby declares that a public nuisance exists on the property of the defendants and thus orders the defendants to immediately abate the public nuisance on the property and fully alleviate to the satisfaction of the court and of the county all violations of the county regulations as well as the applicable sections of the Tennessee Code.”

In three of the cases, Rambo gave the defendants 30 days to correct the violations.

Those were defendants Timothy Birchfield and Karen Hollifield, owners of property at 3046 Tenn. Highway 91; Billy Joe Miller, owner of property at 2235 Elizabethton Highway, Johnson City; and Gene Woodard and Carol Woodard, owners of property at 609 Highway 321, Hampton.

In these cases, Rambo ordered that if the property owners failed to remedy the problems in 30 days “the defendants may be found in civil contempt and incarcerated in the Carter County Detention Center for willful contempt of court.”

Rambo also ruled that if not all violations were corrected in 30 days that the county could make the corrections and place the cost of the cleanup as a lien on the property.

Rambo found a more complicated matter with the property at 118 Brimer Road.

He found the assessed property owner, Myra Hodge, has been dead since 1973, and her heirs appear to have been paying the property taxes since then. Rambo said there are approximately 14 living heirs. The relative living on the property was deemed to have no legal rights to occupy the property.

In this one case, Rambo gave the defendants 60 days to correct the violations.

In the final case, property at 134 Howard Lipford Drive, owned by Gary W. Ward, Rambo found that after the legal proceedings had begun, Ward had “made substantial efforts to remedy all violations of the county regulations and the applicable sections of the Tennessee code.”

Rambo ordered the case be dismissed upon payment of court costs.

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