He said that educating businesses would be first and foremost, indicating he would notify them of the new law and give them time to comply, instead of raiding stores that may sell the products.
“I’m going to send them a copy of the ordinance and a letter explaining it, and then we’re going to pay them a visit,” Bowen said.
Also during the meeting, once again, the council talked drainage, flooding and how to help homeowners deal with these issues during the meeting when Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath asked Mayor Philip Craighead where he stood on signing a contract to allow a land survey for several homeowners.
The contract Warmath referred to was with Neel Schaffer, Inc., to survey land for four or five homes on Barnes Drive to see how water flows over the properties. Warmath said the homeowners get several feet of water in the garages and homes during a heavy rainfall.
“This is just to let these people know what they can do,” Warmath said.
The cost of surveying the land would be $2,000, which Warmath pointed out is well below the $65,000 drainage study that Neel Schaffer did for the city earlier this year. The contract has reportedly been sitting on Craighead’s desk as he is yet to sign it.
Craighead said he had talked with City Attorney Andy Wright about signing the contract and providing a service for a small group of people outside of the right-of-way. Wright said it was bad policy to spend public money on a small group of people.
“When it comes to spending public funds to benefit a small group of homes, its bad public policy,” Wright said.
He did point out that his official stance was not to leave the contract unsigned, saying
“I’m just telling you what the literature says.” Wright said there were ways to do the work such as including it in a larger city project or granting easements.
Warmath contested “there are easements already,” adding “We’ve been way off the right-of-way many times in the past.”
Wright explained that Tennessee follows the “Natural Flow Rule,” which he said prevents anyone from making water flow better in a certain area or worse in an area.
According to Warmath, the homes were built with city approval in an area that was prone to flooding. She said the city has accountability to help the homeowners, especially since the cost is minimal.
Ward 3 Councilor Rob Cesternino asked Wright if the city was setting a precedent by helping this small group, forcing them to have to help every group that wants this kind of work done.
He said if so, the cost could quickly balloon if one group gets the work and many more ask for the same kind of survey. Wright pointed out they would not set a precedent, which satisfied Cesternino’s concerns.
Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler said the city “ought to be progressive enough” to help this group of homeowners, especially since the cost is low and Warmath said the money is already contained within the Engineering Department’s budget.
Buhler also said the city allows developers to build in areas that cause flooding on homes and make drainage issues worse. He asked why the city allows developers to build inside the floodplain and areas that are prone to flooding.
Wright responded, “Because they’d sue us and win,” indicating that builders have a right to build where they want to.
“I just want something for my folks who are getting water in their homes because we’ve let builders build below sea level, so to speak,” Warmath said.
City Engineer Chuck Boyett pointed out the project would not solve any problems for the homeowners, merely identify them and give the private property owners suggestions on how to correct the issues.
Warmath said it was up to the homeowners to buy the materials or spend money to get the work done to solve their flooding problems on their own property.
The council agreed to put the contract into ordinance form so they could vote on the measure. The ordinance was added to the agenda for the council’s special called meeting on Wednesday night and must pass two readings.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.