Attorney Jerry Summers To Fill In As Soddy Daisy Judge; City Faces Another Animal Issue

Friday, April 20, 2012 - by Sarah Ruf

Attorney and former judge Jerry Summers will return to the bench in the same city where he presided as its first judge ever. Soddy Daisy commissioners appointed attorney Summers acting judge for the city Thursday night during the regular commission meeting.

He fills a vacancy left by Judge David Norton, who is acting in an interim position as General Sessions Court judge. He took over for the late Judge Bob Moon. 

Voters will choose replacements for the remaining two years in a special election Aug.


Attorney Summers became judge at Soddy Daisy in 1971 and in 1985 was dismissed by the commission. He filed suit saying he had refused demands of commissioners to operate as "a cash register court." He argued for the independence of the judiciary. Chancellor Vann Owens ruled in his favor, but the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed the case, saying the matter had been litigated on an incorrect reading of the statutes involved. However, the high court said the case "amply demonstrates the need to secure a definite term of office for" judges.  

More animal trouble cropped up during the citizens participation portion of the meeting. Resident Carlene Gooden-Quarles told the commissioners about animal problems with her neighbors.
She claimed her neighbors are operating a for-profit training facility and a kennel for more than 18 dogs, including German Shepherds and at least one pitbull. The area is zoned for agriculture.

“The stench is unbearable at this point,” Ms. Gooden-Quarles said. “It looks like a business.”

City Manager Hardie Stulce said the family had purchased a building permit earlier in the day for a detached garage. There were questions among the commissioners about the purpose of the garage and whether it would be used to hold dogs.

“We’ve received complaints before, the smell and that sort of thing in an agricultural area,” Mr. Stulce said.

“A kennel is a business,” said Sam Elliott, city attorney.

Commissioner Shane Harmon asked Ms. Gooden-Quarles if she would be afraid of the dogs if they were to escape into her yard.  “I’m definitely afraid,” she replied.

“We’ll have to research the zoning, it would be a zoning issue,” attorney Elliott said. “If the smell and the noise is horrible, you may have a nuisance issue.”

Taking legal action for animal issues may be difficult in an agricultural zone, commissioners noted.

Carl Gooden lives next to his daughter in the neighborhood and spoke as well. “[The neighbor’s] dogs bark,” he pounded his hand on the lectern, “twenty-four hours a day.”

“We got your message,” Mayor Jim Adams said.

The commissioners recently had to sort out an issue involving goats.

Commissioners approved on first reading the rezoning of property at 9177 Daisy Dallas Road from its current manufacturing and agricultural status to a single agricultural status.

Another unanimous approval came for an option for planning commission members to waive annual training requirements. Four training hours per year are currently required for sitting planning commission members.

In his report, City Manager Stulce told the commission the city had been denied a federal grant after applying for one that would fund new firefighter equipment. He lamented how grant rejection happened too often for the town. “It’s frustrating,” he said.

The city is no longer offering brush pickup to residents. Officials are searching for a new place to dispose of picked-up brush.  The current location is filled to capacity. Residents will be notified once brush pickup is once again available, Mr. Stulce said.

A ceremony honoring veterans will be held May 5 in the Veteran’s Park at 10 a.m. Names of honored servicemen and women will be read at the ceremony.

Sarah Ruf

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