Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Citywide Program Makes Neighbors Inspectors

Channel 4 News Residents Must Receive 1 Hour Special Training Reported By Jonathan Martin POSTED: 4:40 pm CDT June 23, 2009 UPDATED: 6:52 pm CDT June 23, 2009 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Complaining to the city about a neighbor's high grass doesn't mean something will be done right away. Related: Watch This Story "There's sometimes where it may be three to four to five days before they can get out there and look at it," said Bill Penn of the Department of Codes and Building Safety. With Nashville losing two of its 14 code inspectors to budget cuts, the process of enforcing property standards could take even longer. It's a big reason, Penn said, his department plans to expand a new program throughout the city in which neighbors become inspectors of sorts. "It's a way for neighbors to really take charge of their neighborhood and to affect change in their neighborhood," Penn said. Currently, if a person wanted to report someone's high grass or junky yard, he or she would have to call the Codes Department. The complaint would be recorded into the system, and an inspector may go out days or weeks later. But new rules would allow residents who receive an hour of special training to use a form to write down violations themselves and send the paper in to Codes. Right away, the department would mail the form to the neighbor in violation, eliminating the need for an inspection from the city. "So we've completed two parts of a three-step process in one step," Penn said. The program has been tested in a several neighborhoods, such as Lockeland Springs in east Nashville. Todd Williams said it has worked well. "The neighborhood's gotten better. The aesthetics, most of the properties have been rehabilitated," said Williams. Penn said the program would only be offered through organized neighborhood groups. "One thing we don't want to have happen is for someone in a neighborhood, they have a beef against their neighbor. Well, they get a stack of these forms and send one in every week," said Penn. The Codes Department hopes to start the new program citywide within a few months. Copyright 2009 by "

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