12/26/2007

Residents In Historic Areas Bothered By Blighted Designation: WTVF-TV5, Nashville TN, 10/30/07

Some Clarksville [TN] residents fear they will lose their homes.

The Clarksville City Council recently passed a redevelopment ordinance that lists six communities as blighted areas.

Don and Patsy Sharpe live in one of those areas.

The Sharpes fear the language in the ordinance gives the city the power to do what it wants with their historic home.

"By moving them into blighted that gives the subject powers of eminent domain," Don Sharpe said. "Private property can be taken from individual owners and transferred to the hands of private developers."

The communities are located in downtown.

City leaders said the term "blight" is required language in order for the city to receive special grant funding.

Frank Lott worked on the ordinance four years ago. The words "blight" and "eminent domain" can be found throughout the ordinance. The language is needed for future funding.

"There can't be any action that takes place without the property owners, essentially their consent and their willingness to say, 'I'm going to sell my property,'" Lott said.

Homeowner Lynnee Jellison agrees the language in the ordinance can be confusing but she doesn't believe the city wants to seize her property.

"No, no not at all because I own my home," she said. "No one is going to take my home and the city isn't interested in redevloping houses that are in good shape."

The Sharpes' home is also in good condition. If their home stays, they wonder what would happen to those that are made to go.

Individuals who drafted the ordinance said eminent domain exists regardless of the ordinance. City government has the power to deal with abandoned properties or those designated as "blight."

But the ordinance wasn't designed to buy homes.

Residents and city leaders attended a community meeting Tuesday night at the L&N Station. It was organized to help clear up confusion over the language in the ordinance.


WTVF-TV5, Nashville TN: http://www.newschannel5.com