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An open letter about the “blight” ordinance

 

I sent this letter opposing the Clarksville Center Redevelopment Plan to Clarksville City Mayor Johnny Piper and all twelve City Council members on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008. So far I have only received four replies.

blight article headerTo my elected representatives:

As a registered voter and a property owner I am extremely concerned and alarmed about the so-called “blight” ordinance, 73-2005-06. I live within the area designated as “blight” by this ordinance, and am beyond disappointed at both this current city council plus administration as well as with the former city council plus administration.

I NEVER received proper notification of this ordinance in any stage of its development. I received absolutely nothing in 2006 when it was up for its first reading, nor did I receive anything this past fall when it finally was scheduled for a second reading. Had I received proper notice of this you would have certainly heard and read my thoughts long prior to today. This document should have never been passed.

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Editor’s Note: The Clarksville Property Rights Coalition is asking that people who oppose the redevelopment ordinance to attend tonight’s city council meeting wearing red. The public address period begins at 7:00pm, while the official city council meeting starts at at 7:30pm. The council meeting is being held at the Board of Education building, which is located at 621 Gracey Avenue (approximately where the old Acme Boot building was on Crossland).

I read in the newspaper and through online sources that there is “misinformation” floating around regarding this ordinance, so I took the time to read the entire document in question. Yes, it took me a while to read and digest all 18 pages in PDF format. It has also taken me a few weeks to temper my anger regarding this document. This ordinance must be repealed.

There is currently talk of “amending” the ordinance to allegedly “fix” a few things. I propose there is no way to amend this ordinance as it is fundamentally flawed. The size of area designated as blight is preposterous. Larger metropolitan cities who actually have true urban blight do not designate areas this large as blight. What exactly is Clarksville City Council saying about this city by passing this ordinance? This ordinance should have never been passed.

co-depot-man-looking-at-ordinance.JPGThere is an old saying: “The Devil is in the details,” and the Redevelopment Plan attached to the ordinance proves it beyond all doubt. The very notion of an elected government body willing to use eminent domain to further private development is the antithesis of all our country was founded upon (Section 1 of the ordinance). It is abhorrent to me as a property owner to even think that my tax dollars could go to fund such a practice so hostile to us individual homeowners within the designated blight area (Sections 4 and 5 of the ordinance). The Redevelopment Plan even specifically states structurally sound property can be acquired and demolished (B-2-e). The statement concerning “the present subdivision and ownership of land” as an impediment to development and redevelopment of the city (B-2-c) is particularly insulting.

This entire ordinance and redevelopment plan are simply unacceptable to me as a homeowner. My home is not blight. It is not only my place of residence, it is the place I picked to make a life and raise my son with the thought of both of us attending Austin Peay nearby to improve our economical position. I live near the city park so my son can enjoy the facilities. I pay city property taxes like everyone else. My home may not be extravagant, but it is structurally sound and habitable. Currently a good portion of my income goes to college tuition for myself and in a few years for my son, so I needed to pick a property I could easily afford while we attend college. Now I feel my prudent decisions are being punished by this ordinance for the profit of private developers.

While the ordinance and Redevelopment Plan both allow for “proper notification” of homeowners who are affected by a total stranger’s ideas for the property, I must question why we should place any trust in this. As stated above, I did not receive any notification of this ordinance or plan, even though it directly affects me. How can I be assured I would be notified of any plan filed that involved my property before a decision is made? Simply saying it will be so is not good enough, given the total lack of communication by the city councils and mayors involved in passing this ordinance.

Does Clarksville have areas within the designated blight area that desperately need improvement? Yes. Should these areas be redeveloped for the good of the community? Yes. Is this the way to do it though? NO! This ordinance needs to be repealed, and the community as a whole should work together to draft a better plan. Developers, homeowners, city council, and the zoning commission should work with each other to work out an idea that will benefit all involved. The ordinance and redevelopment plan currently in place do not benefit all parties.

Repeal the ordinance. Revoke the redevelopment plan. This is not good for the community.

Katrina Gunn


About Katrina Gunn

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