Tonight, the Clarksville City Council will hold its first hearing on the revised Clarksville Center Redevelopment and Urban Renewal Plan. Residents are surprised that a previous public “hearing” satisfies the city’s responsibility to consider input from the community. I’m surprised that Mayor Johnny Piper admits to tearing up the comment cards of his constituents.
This entire process has been marred by misinformation and an offensive disregard for the community. While the revised proposal does tighten the criteria for acquiring homes and businesses to some extent, Clarksville’s property owners are still not protected from eminent domain for private gain – no matter what the city says.*
*City Council puts over 1,800 homes, businesses and churches on chopping block without notifying the affected owners.
- In response to massive community opposition, the city and its development arm hold a forum on the plan in January, but denies a request made by affected property owners to make a 30-minute presentation since “residents’ concerns are well known.” (The article is curiously missing from the Leaf-Chronicle’s website, but is available via PDF here.)
- Mayor Piper admits that the plan was not written in “strict accordance with state law,” but instead of repealing it, the city decides to amend the plan and takes a field trip to Knoxville.
- No hope for the community to be heard this time around, though. At a public “hearing” in March, 50 people were prohibited from attending because the city didn’t host it in a room large enough for all those it invited.
- But nobody was allowed to talk anyway. Citizens were encouraged to submit their comments in writing…many of which the mayor subsequently tore up.