Brookshire Wants More Government Regulations

At tonight's Lenoir City Council meeting 9/10, council is scheduled to take a second vote on new regulations that will go into effect to bring more regulations to owners of rental property within the city limits. The new regulations are a poorly veiled attempt to again try to address the multiple Mexican families living in single family dwellings. Brookshire's first attempt to address the problem was to take condemnation actions against rental property owners who the city deemed unfit properties. After losing several court battles, apparently Brookshire is trying a new approach. Monday's meeting may prove to be interesting.

Renter Rules Get Nod In LC
By: William Martin
Source: Loudon County News-Herald
Overcoming a language barrier proved difficult at the Aug. 27 Lenoir City Council meeting. A new ordinance under first reading contained a wide array of language problems for both private citizens and council members alike.

The new ordinance, according to the summary provided on the council’s agenda, will require all owners of residential rental properties to designate an agent for services of process. The ordinance also accounts for "providing for the inspection of residential rental properties, prescribing duties of owners, agents and occupants, and prescribing penalties for violations."

Thomas Proaps Jr. of Lenoir City was quick to point out a discrepancy with the actual wording of the ordinance which reads, "requiring all owners of residential properties" leaving out the word "rental." Mayor Matt Brookshire assured Proaps the omission was unintentional and the proper wording would be added prior to the vote on the first reading.

Vice-Mayor Douglas “Buddy” Hines pointed out a second discrepancy where the ordinance conflicted with previous regulations in section 4b of the prospective ordinance: "The name, address, and telephone number of the owner, agent, and/or manager shall be reported to the Codes Enforcement Office in writing upon the registering of rental properties." According to Hines, the city no longer requires the registration of rental properties. City Attorney Shannon Littleton suggested if the word "registering" were removed, the meaning and intent of section 4b would remain intact.

The last major language issue with the prospective ordinance was contained in the packet of definitions. There are eight criteria for a structure being evaluated for a "deteriorated condition.” According to some council members it is unclear whether one or all eight criteria need to be met to qualify a structure as "deteriorated." According to council, only one criterion needs to be met but the language of this ordinance leaves it unclear.

Hines said he approved of the ordinance but also noted, "I wat to get it right." The rest of Lenoir City Council agreed. Councilman Tony Aikens requested all appropriate language changes and corrections be made by the second reading. Littleton assured council a new draft would be available prior to the next council meeting. Despite the known conflict over language issues, the new ordinance was motioned with a second prior to the discussion of corrections.

According to Brookshire, the heart of the matter lies within the definition of "family" as it pertained to "single family dwelling." According to the ordinance definition, a family is "one or more persons living in a single dwelling unit and functioning as a common household unit sharing household expenses and sharing joint use of the entire dwelling unit. If a dwelling is rented, in order to qualify as a family, there shall not be more than one lease among the occupants. A family shall not include more than five persons who are not ‘related’ to each other per the Lenoir City Zoning Ordinance."

The word "related" is also defined by the ordinance as "persons who are related by blood, marriage, adoption or formal foster relationship to result in one of the following relationships: brother, sister, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, great-grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, or first cousin. [It] shall not include relationships such as second, third or fourth cousins."

These stipulations concerning "family" and "related" apply only to residential rental properties in terms of occupying a single-family dwelling. The ordinance is expected to be brought before Council Sept. 10 for its final reading.