|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
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
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.