If Not Redevelopment, What?

As a commissioner, one of the things that would aggravate me the most were those persons who could always point out the problems and complain about everything but never had answers to the problems. It's so easy point out the problems when you don't have to provide the solutions. It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine that I was guilty of this very thing pertaining to the Mayor's redevelopment plan. He was right. He said, "I challenge you to put your research and activism to work to help come up with a way to make redevelopment happen in a way that is beneficial to city residents as well as all county residents that consider Lenoir City home. Don't just oppose the process...offer an intelligent alternative." I will take the challenge.

Beyond any doubt Lenoir City has a substantial problem with what city officials call "Blighted Property" or more simply put, run down, trashy, messy, unsightly property. Some of these properties are truly hardship cases. Property owners who just can't afford to make the necessary repairs to make their property more aesthetically acceptable. However, more times than not the "Blighted Property" is simply what most of us would call Slum Lord" properties. These are tenant owners or land lords who have but one interest in mind. MONEY. The properties have been allowed to fall into a state of extreme disrepair yet all the time continuing to collect rent. Maybe in the future, I will get out, get some photos and identify those property owners.

Lenoir City currently has dozens of ordinances on the books to address most every conceivable "Blighted Property" issue that could arise. Several years ago the city received advice from Municipal Technical Advisory Service on additional methods to address some of their problems. Click here to read. The city even created the Better Building Board back in July of 05. They also have Livability Court. The list of available enforce mechanisms is extensive yet underutilized. Don't just take my word on this, click here for all Lenoir Codes.

This is what is so perplexing about the new redevelopment plan, why is it necessary at all? Unless there are ulterior motives. With all the existing regulations, why would the city need even more powers? I think this is what scares everybody so much. Why have all the other plans failed? SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. The city cannot enforce their existing "Blighted Property" laws on some unless they are willing to enforce it on all, political cronies, family and friends. This has never and will never happen under the current administration.

So, to my friend, here is my "intelligent alternative."

Simply enough, just enforce the laws that are already on the books. Enforce them equally and fairly on everyone. The ordinances currently in place are strong and have strong enforceable penalties. If this were done there would be no need for a Redevelopment Corporation with questionable motives. To take it a step further, apparently the current administration is unable or unwilling to enforce current regulations. Maybe it's time to give some others the opportunity clean up the city.