Metro Council meets tonight … virtually

LYNCHBURG — The Metro Council will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. In order to follow social distancing recommendations, 10 people (including council members, the mayor, department heads, and the media) will meet at the American Legion Building. Other council members and the public will attend remotely. For credential to login into the meeting, contact the Metro Mayor’s office at 931-759-7076.

Monday night’s agenda is packed. In new business, the council will consider language clarifying language for several Metro ordinances. They will also hear a resolution to adopt personnel policies and to apply for a litter grant. Additionally, they will consider a resolution to allow the Metro Water Department to lease or purchase new water meters.

On budget news, the council will consider the final budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year and consider a recommendation from the Budget Committee to dissolve the Urban Services Fund into the General Fund. The Metro Council will also consider a spending plan for the Governor’s Local Government Support Grant.

Metro Council member Wayne Hawkins has asked to speak to the council at large about two items HB 2038/SB 2076 and a Car Club Event Resolution. As you’ll recall, during the March 16 meeting, Hawkins appeared before the Metro Council on behalf of the Whiskey Runners Car Club, the organization behind Lynchurg’s fall car show, Cruisin’ in the Hollow. The organizers were concerned that their event, which traditionally happens on the first weekend in October, would conflict with the Lynchburg Music Fest’s new date, October 2-3. However, after The Times spoke with LMF organizers, we confirmed that there was no conflict because the music festival would be held at a different location this year. Click here for that article. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Social distanced Metro Council meeting held tonight

LYNCHBURG — Despite the current Stay at Home order, Metro’s business must go on. As such, local officials got clever when planning this month’s Metro Council meeting … typically held in person at the former American Legion Building.

Tonight, the Metro Council will hold their first “socially distanced” meeting – 10 local officials will attend in person and stay six feet apart while others attend remotely. The new meeting format is based on Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 16, which allows city, county, and metro governments to conduct business by electronic means rather than in person during the COVID-19 health crisis. Prior to tonight’s meeting, each individual council member informed Mayor Lewis whether they intended to attend via phone, online, or in person.

Due to the trend of hackers “bombing” public meeting, The Times won’t publicly post the credentials to view the meeting. However, any citizen who wishes to attend tonight’s virtual meeting can contact the Mayor’s office for log in credentials at 931-759-7076.

Electing new fourth district council member

In elections and appointments, council members will vote on someone to replace Shawn Adams as fourth district council member.

Per guidance offered by Metro Attorney John T. Bobo prior to the meeting, “all references to a majority of its members or membership shall be interpreted as a majority of the then existing Metro Council member seats, not merely a majority vote of the quorum present and voting.” These guideline were established in 2009 .

Each fourth district candidate must be nominated by an existing council member and then receive a majority of voice votes. If there are multiple candidates, at the end of each vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be dropped.

In other business, the council will also be asked to approve new members of the Metro Utility and Mayor Lewis will appear before the council to give an update on state grants.

All Metro Council meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the former American Legion Building. Officials have not yet determined whether the May 18 meeting will be held virtually as well. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}   

Metro Council names 2020 boards and committee members

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Moore County Council named and approved committee member for 2020 on Monday night. They are as follows:

Budget Committee: Amy Cashion (Chair), John Taylor, Gordon Millsaps, David Boyce, and Gerald Burnett

Finance Committee: Lynn Harrison (Chair), Sandy Lewis, Wayne Hawkins, Keith Moses, and Shawn Adams

Industrial Board: Tommy Brown (chair), Sunny Rae Moorehead, Wayne Hawkins, Keith Moses, and Arvis Bobo

Policy and Procedures Committee: Arvis Bobo (chair), Sunny Rae Moorehead, Meghan Bailey, Houston Lindsey, and Gerald Burnett

Ambulance, Jail and Fire Committee: David Boyce (chair), Amy Cashion, John Taylor, Houston Lindsey, and Denning Harder

Building and Grounds Committee: Sandy Lewis (chair), Meghan Bailey, Houston Lindsey, Shawn Adams, and Denning Harder

Highway Advisory Board: Wayne Hawkins (chair), Sandy Lewis, Gordon Millsaps, Arvis Bobo, and Denning Harder

The Metro Council meets on the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. To have your item added to the agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Mayor: Sanitation ordinances need teeth

LOCAL NEWS — Garbage being thrown out the back door to collect on the lawn … garbage being thrown out the front door and rolling down the hill … properties that look like a junk yard there are so many dead vehicles lying around. Issues like these affect property values, cause neighbor disputes, attract vermin, and tie up local officials with constant complaint calls, according to Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis, and she needs “teeth” to address them properly.

“We have these laws on the books,” she told the Metro Council on Monday. “But we need teeth to be able to enforce them.”

She’s right. There’s an entire chapter in the Metro Codes book relating to health and sanitation. For example, Metro Code 5-102 states that all persons within Metropolitan Moore County are required to keep their premises in a clean and sanitary condition, free from accumulations of refuse. Metro Code 5-206 addresses health and sanitation nuisances stating that it’s unlawful for any resident to allow any premise owned, occupied, or controlled by them to become and remain filthy. There are also laws revolving around stagnant water, weeds, dead animals and other public health issues.

Sheriff Tyler Hatfield reminded the Metro Council that these offense are civil and not criminal.

“We can cite them into General Sessions court but without consequences and fines, it won’t do much good,” he said.

Mayor Lewis did not come to the meeting without a plan and offered several recommendations which included: official letters from a Metro official to offending homeowners, a fine schedule, the formation of a Metro Sanitation Board, and even charging repeat offenders for clean up and adding it to their property tax bill.

Metro Council member Sunny Moorehead recommended looking at how surrounding counties handle the issue and using the parts of their plans that make sense for the county.

Metro Attorney John T. Bobo also added that Metro would need to handle situation where the offender and the property owner are not the same.

“We’d also want to be very careful not to place ourselves in the middle of private disputes,” he added.

The Metro Council will address the issue further at a future meeting. The next Metro Council meeting takes place on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. To have your item added to the agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council meets Feb. 17

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Council will meet on Monday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m. in a regular session meeting. There will be a public hearing at 6:20 p.m. to consider the rezoning of the Eakins property in the second district from agricultural to industrial.

In new business the Highway Department will submit the 2020 Roads Improvements List. Metro Public Safety Director Jason Deal will also give an Emergency Management Agency report.

Mayor Bonnie Lewis will also make public announcements about the Moore County Health Department and announce that Moore COunty will receive a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Traffic Signal Modernization Program Grant.

All Metro County meetings are open to the general public and take place at the American Legion Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Council member asks for legal “blank check” to revisit barrel tax issue

In November 2011, the Metro Council decided by a 10-5 vote. Back then, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce unanimously opposed the proposal. In April 2018, the General Assembly decided by a 78-12 vote. But on Monday night, Metro Council member Tommy Brown asked his fellow council members to a approve a legal “blank check” to get clarification on the “constitutionality” of the Moore County Barrel Tax issue.

Brown asked Chairman Denning Harder to add the item into old business just before the January meeting. As such, no information about the issue could be added to the informational packets that each member receives prior to each meeting.

Brown asked for a motion empowering Property Tax Assessor Darrin Harrison to pursue a “administrative or judicial review” of the 2018 decision … using public funds to do so. Brown said he was asking the Council to revisit the long-decided issue due to a new opinion by Murfreesboro Administrative Judge Mark Aaron in September 2019.

“I think we owe it to the the people of this county,” Brown stated.

The Lynchburg Times acquired a copy of that legal opinion. In it, Judge Aaron states that “the administrative judge is earnestly unable to see the assessor’s argument as anything short of a claim that the recent amendment is facially invalid due to constitutional infirmity” … meaning he declines to make a ruling on the constitutional questions surrounding the state legislature’s approved whiskey barrel tax exemption. He further state that he’s “highly skeptical of his authority to usurp the Legislature’s clear directive.”

In Brown’s motion to the Council, he asked that they green light public funds to pursue an administrative or judicial review of the case. He received considerable push back. Mayor Bonnie Lewis cautioned that a legal “blank check” could result in a large, unintended line item.

“I can’t see it costing much,” Brown retorted.

Fellow Metro Council member Amy Cashion stated her unwillingness to vote on Brown’s motion out of the blue. “All of this was decided a long time ago,” she stated. “I’d need to refresh my memory before I felt comfortable voting.”

It’s a sentiment several other members also addressed. Several asked Brown to table his motion until the February meeting to give members time to review the facts … an idea Brown rebuffed.

“It was decided in September,” he replied. “You’ve had time.”

Instead he asked for a roll call vote in the matter. Yes votes were Adams, Millsaps, Brown, and Hawkins. No votes were Moses, Lewis, Burnett, Boyce, Harder, Cashion, Lindsay, Bailey, Moorehead, and Taylor. The motion failed 4-10. Arvis Bobo did not attend the meeting.

Judge Aaron’s appeal ruling took place on September 13, 2019. According to the document, interested parties had 75 days to file any further appeals. That deadline expired in late November.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council meets on Monday

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Moore County Council will meet on Monday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. There will be a Public Zoning Hearing regarding the Davis Property at 6:20 p.m.

The public hearing will address the rezoning of 1.74 acres of land in Moore County’s District 2. The requested rezoning would allow the owner to change the current zoning from agricultural to residential. The Metro Planning Commission recommended this rezoning on Dec. 17. Any interested parties should attend the public hearing.

In new business, the Council will be presented with a rezoning request from Donald Eakins in the Second District. He’d like his property rezoned from agricultural to residential. If approved, this would be the first reading. The measure would then need a public hearing and two more readings before it receives final approval.

The council will also discuss a $3 million bond to complete renovations at Moore County High School. This bond was originally approved in the fall of 2018, according to Mayor Lewis. In similar business, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead will present his final budget amendments for 2019-2020.

According to Director Moorehead during the Jan. 13 Metro School Board meeting, only minor changes will be made. The school system added a $19,000 school safety grant to the budget. That money will be allocated to School Resource Officer (SRO) line item as well as fund upgrades for the visitor check in system at both schools. That new system will scan visitor driver’s license and instantly run background checks.

Metro Schools will also add $8,000 in insurance recovery money to the budget. This covered a lawn mower that was stolen from this school system last year. The cost to replace that mower was $15,000, according to Director Moorehead.

All Metro Council meeting are open to the general public. The American Legion Building is located at 119 Booneville Highway. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council moves meeting date

LOCAL NEWS — Due to scheduling conflicts for both the chairman and chairman pro-temp, the Metro Council will meet on the fourth Monday of November this month. Normally, regular session meetings are held on the third Monday of each month.

The meeting will be held on Monday, November 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lynchburg Legion Building (formerly the American Legion Building) located at 119 Booneville Highway. A Highway Advisory Committee Meeting will take place at 6:20 p.m. just prior to the Metro Council meeting.

According to Mayor Lewis, this is a one time meeting time change. The December meeting will happen on the third Monday or December 16 as per usual. An agenda will not be available until next week. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council approves multiple board members

LOCAL NEWS — Several Metro Moore County board members were approved by the Metro Council last Monday. They include:

Zoning Appeals Board: Shannon Cauble, Patrick Maynard, Keith Moses, Josh Cook, and Houston Lindsey | Meets as needed the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the American Legion Building located at at 119 Booneville Highway.

Utility Board: SunnyRae Moorehead, Meghan Bailey, Keith Moses, Shawn Adams, and Gerald Burnett | The Metro Utility Board meets at 6 p.m. the second Monday of each month at the Metro Utility Department offices located at 705 Fayetteville Highway.

Beer Board: Amy Cashion, Buford Jennings, Mark Watkins, Gina Henshaw, and Nathan Buchanan|Meets as needed on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. Location varies.

Planning Commission: Eddie Burton, Ryan Dickert, Jeff Ross, Shawn Adams, Tommy Brown, and Bobby Carroll |Meets as needed the first Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. at the Moore County Building.

Historical Zoning Commission: Lynne Tolley, Ron Bradford, Emily Bedford, Hank Terjen, Meghan Bailey, and Cyndy Carroll | Meets as needed the first Tuesday of even months at 5 p.m. at the Moore County Building.

The Metro Council meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of every month at the American Legion Building located at 119 Booneville Highway. All Metro Meeting are open to the general public. All public meeting items must be submitted a minimum of 10 days prior to the scheduled meeting. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council meets Monday

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Council will meet on Monday, October 21 at 6:30 p.m. in a regular session meeting. There will be a public hearing at 6:20 p.m. to consider the rezoning of the Pierce property on Marble Hill Road from agricultural to industrial.

New Business to be considered

Alisha Ruiz will appear before the Council to seek permission for the Ragnar Relay. The annual race will take place on November 8-9 and runners will run from Chattanooga to Nashville with a portion crossing into Moore County. Other agenda items will be the Be In the Zone (BITZ) Campaign, which fights distracted driving in 15 Tennessee counties. Officials will also address the council to approve the Metro’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).

The Metro Utility Board will address the council to discuss refinancing the Metro Utilities Department debt. The Council will also consider a resolution to extend Sunday beer sales hours.

All Metro County meetings are open to the general public and take place at the American Legion Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}