published Monday, August 27th, 2012

Vote today on Cleveland City Council hearing officer

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The City Council is scheduled for a second and final vote today on whether to add an administrative hearing officer as an alternative to City Court for some property complaints.

The hearing officer would be appointed by the council and conduct hearings only when needed.

The council gave its preliminary approval two weeks ago.

City Manager Janice Casteel said the hearing officer could levy fines up to $500 for the more egregious and long-standing codes violations. On nonresidential property, the fine can be up to $500 per day of the violation. City Court is limited to fines up to $50 plus court costs in all cases.

Most council members have said in the past that unmowed grass and dilapidated houses are almost weekly complaints. There are several on the agenda for today.

Today's resolution says use of the administrative hearing officer will be decided by the city manager, or the city manager's designee. Compensation will be set by the City Council. The hearing officer position does not terminate or diminish any other city authority, the resolution states.

In a July letter to the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service, the Tennessee attorney general's office issued an opinion stating creation of the office does not violate a defendant's right to legal due process. Appeals of the hearing officer's findings can be made to the court system.

The council meets at 1 p.m. in the Municipal Building on Church Street for a nonvoting session before its 3 p.m. official voting meeting.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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