Unified Development Code Changes up for Consideration

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioners take the first vote Monday, July 16, on the new countywide Unified Development Code that is nearing a final vote Tuesday at the Memphis City Council.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

The changes to the code are on Monday’s agenda for the first of three readings along with first reading of nine other ordinances that update other building, construction and development codes to bring them into sync with the amended UDC or national and state codes.

The council takes a vote on third and final reading of the UDC at its meeting Tuesday, July 17.

Also up for the first of three readings before the commission Monday is an ordinance that would change how the county handles privately-owned properties overgrown with weeds and grass and littered with trash and other rubbish that are a safety or health hazard.

The proposal, which applies to the unincorporated county, makes the notification process to property owners by the Shelby County Health Department shorter and the county isn’t required to repeat the notification process within a year of the initial notices for grass and weeds.

Going onto private property to cut tall weeds and grass for the county now requires two notices. The proposal gives the property owner 10 days after one notice to cut it or the county will do it and the property owner is billed by the county. If the owner doesn’t pay, it becomes a lien on the property and the owner could be summoned to environmental court.

The new rules would be different for removal of garbage and rubbish. The two-notice rule would remain but with less time for a property owner to comply. The first notice would give a five-day notice and the second, a 10-day notice. The longer period is because the items to be removed include cars and items like refrigerators that an owner has to arrange for the disposal of, which can be more expensive. The notice process would remain in place for repeat violations a year after the first notice.

“However, the more severe cases are likely to have an accompanying court case,” reads a staff summary of the proposed changes. “The potential for the owner to be found in contempt of court should the property again become a dumping ground is seen as a greater deterrent.”

Also on Monday’s agenda is the sale of 26 parcels of delinquent tax property by the county for a total of $105,150.

And the commission takes the third and final vote on an ordinance setting the Shelby County property tax rate for the fiscal year that began July 1. The tax rate remains the same.