Monteagle: Code, Ordinance, and Permit Violation Questions


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Aug. 2 meeting, the Monteagle Planning Commission confronted code, ordinance, and permit violation questions. At issue were retail units being sold as apartments, accessory dwellings on lots with a permanent residence, and the Dixie Lee Avenue/Sampley Street flooding from the RBT construction site stormwater runoff.

Building inspector Earl Geary brought to the commission’s attention the Bear Hollow property, to be auctioned Aug. 6, advertised the site included seven apartments. The apartments were originally created as retail space. “They were changed from retail to living spaces with no building permit or inspection,” Geary said. The new owner would need to “bring [the units] up to code before you move anyone back in.” Geary stressed concerns about fire with multiple units under one roof. “If one of those catches on fire, they’re all going to burn.”

Geary introduced a discussion about accessory dwelling units (ADU), pointing to a circumstance where new owner Cindy Church renovated a storage building for use as a rental apartment. “Monteagle does not allow two principal structures on one lot,” Geary said. “In my opinion it’s a violation of zoning ordinance and can’t be done.”

Cooley’s Rift subdivision residents noted the Cooley’s Rift Homeowners’ Association rules allowed accessory dwelling units.

Monteagle resident Dean Lay observed there were many accessory dwelling rentals in Monteagle.

“We’ve talked about accessory dwelling units a long time,” said Commission Chair Iva Michelle Russell. The issue remains unresolved. Russell apologized to Church and the Cooley’s Rift residents. Town Planner Annya Shalun provided the commission with information on ADU ordinances in nearby municipalities. The commission will hold a workshop to address the ADU question taking into account attached versus unattached units, lot size, whether an architectural drawing will be required for ADU projects, and whether the accessory unit will need to conform to the principal structure in design.

Monteagle resident Mary Beth Best presented the commission with a copy of a letter to the Monteagle Council and July 30 photographs documenting flooding from stormwater runoff at the RBT construction site. RBT has been “out of compliance close to 90 percent of the time they’ve held a [Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation] permit,” Best said, “and they have not even started construction, yet.” The letter states the violations “must be addressed before more serious and irrevocable damage is done to personal property and the health and well-being of the people of this town.” Best cited hydrological studies by engineer Jim Waller, who warned the commission and council about problems from stormwater runoff at the site. “The commission’s recommendations are very important,” Best said. “The council depends on you.”

Waller presented the commission with a letter proposing RBT be required to submit a revised site plan since more than a year has passed since the plan was approved. Waller argued for a revised stormwater plan to prevent “contamination” of the drinking water supply at Laurel Lake. “In the past year and half, RBT earthwork polluted [the lake] with silt, mud, other contaminants and debris,” Waller said. “When pollution of Laurel Lake is caused by the flushing of hydrocarbon pollutants into Monteagle’s storm drainage system [from the RBT Petro truck stop] …the effects on our water supply will be devastating.”

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