Several neighbors that live on Orchard View Drive in Red Bank went to the commission meeting Tuesday night to ask for help. A group home moved into a house on that road five or six weeks ago. The neighbors are still trying to figure out who the new residents are and what they are doing there.
What they do know is that it appears three adult men live in the house and three to four cars and a health services van are parked on the street at all times. The neighbors hear them coming and going day and night.
Vans from various medical facilities are often there, as well. “The traffic in and out is unsettling to a normal neighborhood,” said the owner of the house next door. He said his wife is uncomfortable working in the yard because there is “a lot of staring and gawking going on. Not to be insensitive, but this has turned our neighborhood upside down,” he added.
City Manager Randall Smith told the neighbors that the city is aware of the situation and is trying to find accurate information. Arnold Stulce, city attorney, said that the Tennessee state legislature has made a decision that group housing for unrelated mental or physically handicapped individuals will be allowed in a normal neighborhood despite the R-1 zoning. This ruling is an exception to city zoning laws for people that receive services for these conditions.
Mr. Stulce said the city is in the process of trying to determine if an individual or the sponsor of a group home for those with mental disabilities has leased the property. They are examining documents to see if activities at the property can be considered a city violation. Red Bank will have to “tread lightly” he said, when asking the neighbors to have patience while he determines if the city is able to make a legal response.
The district 3 commission seat has been vacant since Kenneth Welch moved out of town. According to Mayor John Roberts, this is the third time that position has been vacated. It will be filled by appointment for the period of time between now and the November 2014 election. Three of the commissioners held an interview of four interested citizens on March 16. Commissioner Floy Pierce was unable to be there due to a personal emergency. Those under consideration are Edward LeCompte, Becky Browder, Jane Hosemann and Jon Baker. All four were considered viable candidates, yet none received a majority of votes Tuesday night which led Mayor Roberts to table the motion until the commission meeting June 3.
An ordinance to the city code was passed on first reading that has to do with merchants that display things outside. A distance for set-backs from the right-of-way was added as well as the requirement that the merchandise be behind a fence. The purpose of this ordinance is to improve appearances of those businesses. Approval was also given to purchase a new brush truck for the public works department.
Police Chief Tim Christol told the commissioners that Detective Michael Ray was honored for officer of the year by the Chattanooga Optimist Club.
Mr. Smith handed out certificates of completion to Public Works Director Tim Thornbury, Finance Director John Alexander, Police Chief Tim Christol and Assistant Fire Chief Brent Sylar who along with himself finished a series of courses at the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service. The classes taught skills that are needed to run a municipality.
The commissioners acting as the Red Bank Beer Board considered the application for an off-premises consumption beer license for the Rite Aid pharmacy on Dayton Boulevard. The application was made by store manager Amber Busbee. Chief Christol advised the license not be approved because one of Ms. Busbee’s references who is a current employee of the store, made an allegation of prior criminal activity. Chief Christol told the board that he had done a background check on Ms. Busbee and did not find any record. Ms. Busbee told Mr. Stulce and the board that she did not have a criminal record anywhere. Mayor Roberts suggested tabling the application until the first meeting in June in order to “get to the bottom of the misinformation.”