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Several residents packed the Pleasant Hill Town Council meeting last week to express concerns over ordinances and restrictions governing the town residents and property owners. Several have signed a petition stating they want to be de-annexed from the town of Pleasant Hill.

Nearly 50 property owners and residents have signed a petition in Pleasant Hill stating they want to be de-annexed from the town. At least 20 people attended last week’s Pleasant Hill Town Council meeting and presented the council with the petition after expressing their concerns for more than an hour.

The petition and movement for de-annexation states, “We the undersigned petitioners request upon the current mayor and town council members of Pleasant Hill the following — approval/authorize the removal and de-annexing the following private properties from within the town limit boundaries. By standing united we amplify our voices and make it clear that we are disgruntled with ordinances, restrictions that have been imposed upon us. Therefore, we demand that the town administration take action on this issue. To leave no doubt, we want out of the town of Pleasant Hill, TN limits.”

Pleasant Hill Mayor Lisa Patrick encouraged the residents to come to the town hall and express their concerns and issues. Residents were allowed two minutes to speak but eventually more residents spoke and were given extra time to state their opinions.

One of the major complaints is a burning ordinance the town recently approved.

“The main reason we approved that ordinance is we wanted to preserve and protect the rights of Pleasant Hill residents to burn on their property,” Patrick said.

Toward the end of the more than three-hour meeting, the council unanimously voted to repeal the burning ordinance.

Council member Franklin Cobos moved to “repeal the recently enacted burning ordinance in an effort to reflect the wishes of the people they represent.”

Linda Smith supported the motion.

Several residents were inaccurately told they could not burn on their property by other residents of the town who misunderstood the ordinance. The ordinance followed both the county and state law that requires a burn permit. According to Tennessee state law, from Oct. 15 through May 15, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry. Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a half-inch mesh screen cover.

Patrick said, “We’re willing to look at the petition and request but we’ll have to research it.”

Pleasant Hill resident Tim Carrol, who presented the petition to the town council, said he was erroneously told he had to have a building permit for constructing a shed on his property.

“A permit is not needed for shed or a non-residential building. And the burning ordinance is not needed. It’s the same as the state, but it soon could be modified,” Carrol said.

Patrick admitted the error and apologized to Carrol, stating, “We have talked and I admitted your were told wrong and we’re sorry that happened.”

Lenore Iles said her property was along Mayland Rd. and when the road has been paved the past few times, the shoulder on the right of way has not been taken care of or paved, leaving a large bump between the road and the shoulder.

“There are also trees hanging over the right of way,” Iles said.

Jerry Iles said he had to install a culvert on their property to prevent sewage water from coming onto their property.

“We are being treated differently. There are no street lights in our area, either,” Iles said.

The water problem has been fixed with a sewer line that was installed by the school system and Uplands a few years ago.

Resident Scott Iles said he was told he had to have a building permit for a new manufactured home he was placing on his property.

The home is prefabricated, is inspected by both the manufacturer and federal government, he explained.

“I went ahead and played along to come get the permit. When I came into this office I was treated like a junkyard dog … I’m a combat veteran and was almost killed in the line of duty and yet I come in here and was treated like and talked to like I was a junkyard dog,” Iles said. “I won’t ever call or come into this office for anything again.”

All of the council members apologized for the treatment he received and explained that was in a past administration.

“I’m sorry you were treated that way. Nobody will ever be treated that way under this administration. Nobody,” Patrick said.

Several residents echoed poor treatment by previous administrations.

Resident Wayne Blankenship said he was tired and the people were tired of getting ordinances and restrictions placed on them.

“During the ice storm we got no assistance from anyone on my end of town. It’s a shame we were treated that way,” Blankenship said.

He and several other residents said they did not want Pleasant Hill turning into a Fairfield Glade with too many regulations.

“That’s why I moved here from Fairfield Glade,” one woman said.

Several complained about a gun ordinance that prevents property owners within the town limits from firing guns on their property.

Tony Page said property owners should be allowed to shoot wild animals on their property if they are causing a nuisance or safety concern.

Town Clerk, Kellie Dodson said the ordinance is old and pre-dates the current administration by several years.

Although the residents want to be de-annexed from the town, it is a lengthy, complicated process, according to the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Assistance Service handbook.

There are two ways for a city to de-annex territory, both of which are covered under Tennessee Code Annotated 6-51-201.

The first is by referendum after the adoption of an ordinance by the city’s governing body by 3/4 of the voters.

The second is by initiative of the city’s governing body, which would be the Pleasant Hill Town Council. That requires a majority vote. “However, a petition of 10% of the voters residing in that area to be de-annexed that is submitted to the city recorder within 75 days of the final reading of the de-annexation ordinance triggers a referendum on the de-annexation. The referendum is held at the ‘next general election.’ Only voters residing in the territory proposed for de-annexation are entitled to vote. It requires a majority vote of those voters to approve the de-annexation,” the MTAS manual states.

Patrick and all of the town council members urged the residents with the complaints to come talk to them, call them or schedule appointments to address their issues.

“We want to work with these people and let them know we value their concerns. We have to know there is a problem, though, before we can address it,” Patrick said.

Patrick urged residents who have issues to either come into the office or call and talk to her or the council members “to work toward finding solutions together.”

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

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