The Chattanooga City Council passed legislation allowing some residents to raise livestock on their properties and appointed a former judge to a new position. (Photo: Staff)

During a recent meeting, City Council passed legislation allowing some urban residents to have livestock and appointed former Judge Walter Williams to a new position.

Urban agricultural zoning
The City Council passed a new ordinance on first reading that will allow some Chattanooga residents to have livestock on their properties within specific limits.

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The ordinance states that citizens with 5 or more acres of land will be permitted to have livestock on their properties as long as the citizen adheres to regulations for pasture size. Citizens must have 1 acre of pasture area for large livestock such as horses or pigs, one-fourth an acre for smaller livestock like goats or sheep, and 1 acre per 20 fowl.

Citizens will also be prohibited from building any new barn or structure for livestock within 25 feet of a residential property line, and no building used to store feed should be built within 150 feet of a residential property line.

An alternate version of the original ordinance would also allow citizens with less than 5 acres to apply for a special exception permit as long as the plot of land fits other requirements outlined in the alternate ordinance.

District 1 City Councilman Chip Henderson proposed the alternative legislation in response to constituents who voiced a desire to have livestock within a smaller plot of land:

My district is a very rural part of Chattanooga, and even though we may not have large [areas] like 5-acre tracts, many people have 3-acre tracts, 2-acre tracts, and they’re in very rural agricultural areas and everybody’s cool with people having animals. I think it also goes to being self-sufficient, being able to grow or produce a lot of what you consume, and I think that is a big factor in what people want to do in my district.

The alternative version, however, was not welcomed by all on City Council. District 6 Councilwoman Carol Berz voted against the alternative version because she thought the new ordinance was creating an exception to an exception.

“I think that 5 acres are sufficient,” Berz said. “I have people all over my district that do urban farming and I’m a big backer of urban farming, but this was special interest group legislation.”

The alternative version passed on its first reading on a 6–3 vote. The ordinance must pass a second voting to be officially passed.

If approved, the ordinance will go into effect on the day it is passed by City Council.

Judge Walter Williams
The City Council appointed Judge Walter Williams as an administrative hearing officer for the city.

“It’s a pleasure to address the council,” Williams said after his appointment. “The idea is to get people to take care of their own problems, not the city. That’s what I plan to do, as I have done in the past.”

Williams’ law license had been transferred to disability inactive status after having a stroke in 2014.

His comments at the City Council meeting were followed by large applause from attendees and city councilmen.

“I know that we as a city are going to be a lot better with [Williams] back in the loop helping us move forward, with your ideology and way you care for this city and the citizens that live within it,” District 7 Councilman Erskine Oglesby said. “I want to personally thank you for your service, and I’m excited about what lies ahead with you providing your service as administrative hearing officer.”

Other business
Among these items, City Council also passed:

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville.

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