The “clean hands” prescription raises concerns


By ZOË HAGGARD – [email protected]

Shelbyville City Council held a study session Tuesday night to discuss agenda items for next week’s council meeting, Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Shelbyville Rec Center, 220 Tulip Tree Road.

Several points of discussion on possible new ordinances were presented to Council.

Clean hands ordinance

A “clean hands ordinance” was discussed in council and prompted adverse recommendations from the city attorney.

The clean hands ordinances would require that everyone be free of all debts to the city before doing business with the city, Shelbyville city manager Joshua Ray told the study session.

For example, a person coming with a permit to build a house would be required to be free from all debts and obligations to the City before being able to obtain approval for that permit. This would ensure the ability to repay all debts and ensure that fees and taxes are paid, according to Ray.

However, City Attorney Ginger Shofner advised caution with such an order. She said she had two main concerns: that the Council did not have the statutory authority to adopt such a requirement and that there would be constitutional problems.

“The clean hands doctrine is a very well established legal doctrine, but it has nothing to do with an ordinance. ”

Shofner said she was not familiar with the Clean Hands Ordinance before. She therefore contacted the legal department of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, which said she had never heard of such an order.

According to the Legal Department, Shofner said, “We doubt there is any authority in Tennessee that a government could deny services to its citizens on the basis that they hadn’t paid for something else.

After looking further into the matter, Shofner said the District of Colombia was one of the few cities to enforce the Clean Hands Ordinance. And in some cases there are problems with the prescription.

For example, residents of DC who owe the City debts over $ 100 cannot get their driver’s license. But their ordinance is very broad as DC does not function like the average government entity.

“Whatever anyone is accused of doing has to tie into this. It can’t be because you did something wrong, related to what you’re suing in court, ”Shofner explained. “So the way it’s worded, what you’re trying to do is connect two very different things. Whether or not they paid property taxes has absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Airport hangars

Disagreements also arose over a resolution indicating the desire for the future direction of the Shelbyville Municipal Airport.

Council member Henry Feldhaus said the airport was looking for details in its future plans. Feldhaus suggested installing a $ 2 million hangar that could house four jets. As the airport earns $ 100,000 per year per plane to house them in hangars and provide fuel, the airport may start subsidizing itself instead of letting the City continue to pay its annual $ 200,000.

“It’s a smart business decision … The airport could subsidize itself and save taxpayer dollars,” Feldhaus said. City Councilor Rick Overcast disagreed with the idea of ​​building a new hangar. Instead, the airport

has to ditch those who just rent space and don’t fly jets.

“You have too many hangars there… It’s not a storage facility,” Overcast said. Airport manager Paul Perry said that of the people in Tee’s hangars that the airport is looking to buy fuel for, about a third do not fly.


During the study session, council members and citizens were confused about a possible rezoning order for 22.5 acres located on the west side of US 231 North.

The planning commission, according to town planner Waleed Albakry, submitted a favorable recommendation for annexation but an unfavorable recommendation for zoning change from agriculture / low residence to commercial / high residence.

However, there was confusion as to whether the land in question was part of the City or not.

According to Albakry, the portion already zoned R-2 was in the city.

“It’s not in town either,” said Mayor Wallace Cartwright, who said he was raised on part of the property adjacent to the R-2 zoned area. “But the rest of this property was all in one piece. And when the city limits became industrial, where Walmart is, we only took the right-of-way of state highways. ”

Albakry said he saw in the zoning ordinance that the R-2 zoned portion was within the city limits. Ray said they would have to confirm later.

Stacey Roach, of Curl Construction – the applicants for the land – commented during citizen comments that she did not understand why the Planning Commission submitted an unfavorable recommendation to council for this property when an identical property on the east side of the 231 was approved one year. since. Four lots are zoned on the front as commercial and the rest for high density residential (approximately 90 units), the same site in question.

“I think for us it’s a bit confusing because there hasn’t been a rule change in a year,” Roach said. “So, as a developer, it’s difficult for us to know where to invest our real estate when there is no established precedent. ”

The zoning department said zoning was not part of “future land use plans.”


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