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New Ordinance Addition on Public Camping Part of City Council Regular Agenda

Posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 9:19 am


The future of the homeless situation inside the city limits is one vote away from being finalized.

Shelbyville City Council members will vote on the second and final reading an addition to Shelbyville Municipal Code 10-213 which states “It would be unlawful for any person to camp and store personal property on any local, state or federal public property without express written consent from the property owner.”

The ordinance already makes it “unlawful for any person without legitimate business or purpose to loaf, litter, wander or idle in, upon, or about in any way or place customarily open to the public.”

The amendment was approved 5-1 on the first reading in May with council member Stephanie Isaacs, the leader of the Bedford County Listening Project, casting the only dissenting vote.

“The City of Shelbyville Municipal Code Title 10, Chapter 2, Section 213 provided regulations for Loitering in the City Limits of Shelbyville previously,” Shelbyville Mayor Randy Carroll said. “The amendment to this Ordinance became necessary because of camping and/or storing personal property on public property in the City of Shelbyville. “

Homeless camps along the Duck River were unsightly and the use of the river was being hindered by people worried about the homeless population.

“Changes have to be made in Ordinances to protect the safety of all of our citizens,” Carroll said. “Concerns are brought about because of the actions of a few that affect the lives of many. Abuse of public property, safety, and unhealthy environments cause actions to be taken.

“Your Mayor and City Council have been asked to address these concerns and issues. These and other decisions are difficult but must be made to protect our community.”

There were two people who made public comments against the ordinance. Eric Tars of the National Homeless Law Center also sent a letter to city officials in an email, but it was not read at the study session.

JoAnne Vasil, an organizer with the Bedford County Listening Project talked about the burden on one in four renters in Shelbyville paying 50 percent of their incomes on rent. Also speaking against the ordinance addition was Jane Prince Nengu.

“That means that one in four renters are one lost job, broken down car or illness away from possibly becoming homeless,” Vasil said. “We also have no alternative shelter. That means that when an individual or family does find themselves homeless there isn’t anywhere they can turn to for alternative housing or support services.”

Vasil pointed out the city has two animal shelters with strict rules as to how the stray animals should be treated, but nothing for the homeless.

“The City should be looking at real solutions to homelessness rather than ticketing or arresting someone for simply existing or sleeping,” Vasil said. “When you ticket or arrest someone for sleeping outdoors you actually increase the barriers for that person. You are making it harder for that person to move out of being unhoused and into permanent housing.

“Enforcing this camping ban would increase police costs, court costs and jail costs and do nothing to actually address the real issue of homelessness, which is lack of housing that affordable to all income levels.”

The regular City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the council chambers at 100 North Cannon Boulevard Thursday.

Also to be considered are:

*The rezoning if 3.38 acres owned by Cooper Steel Fabricators, Inc., located on the north side of Eagle Boulevard and west of Eaton Drive from Residential-2 (low-medium density residential district) to Industrial-2 (general industrial district will be voted on for a second and final reading.

*The North Brittain Project will have a formal reopening June 12th at 10 a.m.

As the project was finishing the City added some enhancements to the project that weren’t initially thought of as viable due to trying to keep the costs down.

However, the City was able to use funds already appropriated in the FY24 Budget to add those enhancements which included improved road drainage on the south end, widening the street section on the north end and installing standard curb and gutter and sidewalk on East Lane.

There will be an additional change order in the amount of $79,422.50 on Council’s business meeting agenda next to close out the project for a total cost of $992,069.35.

*On second and final reading council members will vote on whether or not to approve the rezoning of 3.38 acres owned by Cooper Steel Fabrications, Inc., located at the north side of Eagle Boulevard and west of Eaton Drive from Residential-2 (low-medium density) to Industrial-2 (general industrial district).

*City Hall will be closed on June 19th in observation of the Juneteenth holiday.

Wednesday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday, June 18, with Tuesday’s regular route