Thursday, June 23, 2011

Repeat Code Offenders Will Face Tougher Fines In Metro

News Channel 5
Posted: Jun 22, 2011 5:18 PM CDT

Updated: Jun 22, 2011 5:58 PM CDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Council is fed up with overgrown and unsightly properties. New legislation passed Tuesday night puts teeth into the current code laws.

Most of the violators turned in to Metro Officials are repeat offenders and the previous $50 fine didn't seem to be enough to keep them in line.

Starting this summer, if they let the grass get overgrown or neglect a property, they'll be facing a fine ten times the normal amount.

"I think it's atrocious. What council person or any person who lives in the area wouldn't think that," said council woman Vivian Wilhoite while walking through an abandoned development in Nashboro Village.

It's a blight Wilhoite won't tolerate anymore. She's been battling the issue for eight years, season after season.

"It's always been a very cumbersome situation because as soon as it gets cleaned up we have to go back out again 'cause the grass has grown back up and start all over again," said Wilhoite.

Wilhoite said the code legislation was weak and that a $50 fine is hardly a threat.

The Glencrest property in Nashboro Village is a clear example. Once owned by Vastland Realty, it's now in the hands of a bank and it's been reported nearly 10 times since 2009. Yet, the grass continues to grow along with residents frustrations.

Complaints for undeveloped properties like the one at Nashboro Village used to come to the Metro Health Department, but under that new ordinance passed Tuesday night, there will now be a tougher system with much larger fines.

"That is good news and that is the only time you can get people's attention is when you hit them in the pocket," said Wilhoite.

And she's eager to hit them hard.

The new legislation includes a new administrative court that can deliver fines up to $500 and not just once, but by the day.

It hopes to act as an incentive to keep properties maintained before another complaint is made.

"I am looking forward to this coming to fruition so we can get these repeat offenders and let them know that we mean business in keeping our neighborhoods looking good," said Wilhoite.

Wilhoite said the tougher ordinance will be a win-win for residents and for developers because a well kept property will benefit the neighborhood and hopefully help sell it to a potential buyer.

They hope it will be especially help the many foreclosed developments owned by banks across the city. The new ordinance passed its third and final reading Tuesday night and will go into effect on July 1.

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