Community Development

Building a Better Tomorrow

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Come on by to the Community Development office.

Our Physical Address is:
815 North Jackson St.
Athens, TN 37303

Our Mailing Address is:
815 North Jackson St.
Athens, TN 37303

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Codes Enforcement

Q:  What can I do about my neighbor’s trees that are growing over or hanging over into my lot. 
A:  The Municipal Code does not address trees on residential lots.  That will be a civil matter between neighbors.

Q:  There are people living in a camper next door.  What can I do about that?
A:   It is a violation of the Zoning Code to live in a camper inside the city limits of Athens unless inside of a campground zoned for that use.  If it can be ascertained that the camper is being used as a living quarters, Codes Enforcement can send a violation notice to the property owner to rectify. 

Q:  My neighbors have cars stopping by at all hours of the day and night.  What can I do about that?
A:  Report any illegal activity to the Police Department

Q:  There’s homeless people squatting in the empty house next door.  What can I do about that? 
A:  Codes Enforcement can send a violation notice to the property owner and have the property secured. 

Q:  I keep my grass cut every week, but my neighbor’s is waist high.  What can I do about that? 
A:  Code enforcement will ascertain if your neighbor’s grass is in violation and if so will send the appropriate violation notice.  If the grass is not cut, the city will have it cut.  That process can take about a month. 

Q:  My neighbor has trash all over his yard.  What can I do about that? 
A:  Code enforcement will ascertain if your neighbor’s trash is in violation and if so, will send the appropriate violation notice.  If the trash is not picked up, the city will have it picked up.  That process can take about a month.

Q:  My neighbor has an old car up on jacks.  What can I do about that?
A:  The municipal code prohibits the keeping or storing of inoperable or abandoned vehicles on residential lots.  Codes Enforcement will send a violation notice on behalf of the Police Department.  The Police Department enforces this code.

Q:  There’s a derelict house in my neighborhood that brings down the property values.  What can be done? 
A:  Codes enforcement has a slum clearance process for dealing with structures unfit for human habitation.  Codes Enforcement will ascertain whether the property falls into the category of unfit.  Severely neglected and damaged houses can be deemed unfit for human occupation through an Administrative Hearing process.

Q:  There’s people living in a shed next door.  What can I do about that? 
A:  It is a violation of the Housing Code to live in an uninhabitable dwelling.  The Housing Code lays out the guidelines for a dwelling to be habitable.  If the situation is a violation of the Housing Code, Codes Enforcement will send a violation notice to the property owner to have it rectified. 

Building Inspections

Q:     How long does it take to get an inspection once a permit has been pulled?
A: Once a request is received the inspection will be scheduled within 72 working hours from the date of the request.

Q:     How long does it take for plans review once submitted?
A: It depends on the project size, the minimum review time for a project is twenty working days, most small projects are a lot quicker than that.

Q:     Do I need a permit for a portable carport?
A: Yes:  permits are required for portable for two reasons, they can be closed in at any time and converted into a fully enclosed garage, and we can make sure they meet the setback requirements described in the Zoning Ordinance.

Q:     Do I need a permit for a storage building?
A: Yes:     they must be permitted so that an inspection can be completed to assure the building meets the required setback per the Zoning Ordinance.

Q:     Can I put my carport or storage building anywhere I want on my property?
A: Carports and storage sheds must meet the setback requirements per the Zoning Ordinance which is fifteen feet from the side and rear property line, Storage buildings cannot be in the front yard of a property, carports can only be in the front if they are attached to the house and can meet the thirty-foot front yard setback requirement, this setback distance is from the property line and not the street.

Q:     Do I need a permit to build a porch/deck?
A: All porches that are thirty inches above the ground, that are connected to the house, and porches that are 200 square feet or larger require a permit.

Q:     Do I need a fence for my pool?
A: Yes the Municipal code requires that a fence (minimum of a five feet in height)  be installed around all pools.  The fence must have a self-closing and self-latching gate.  Tennessee State Law also requires that a child safety alarm be installed in the pool.

Q:     Can the homeowner pull their own permit, or does the contractor need too?
A: Yes:   the homeowner can pull the permit for a project; however, only the homeowner or an immediate family member must do the work. If the homeowner get a contractor to do the work then the contractor must do all the work for the project.

Q:     Do I need a permit to remodel my house that is located outside the adopted residential historic district?
A: If the remodel is just painting, changing floor covering, replacing a plumbing fixture, or other type work a permit is not required, however; if the remodel requires changing anything structurally then a permit will be required.  The best answer is to call the office and ask if your project will require a permit, someone will be glad to answer your question.

Q:     Can you put a mobile or modular home inside the city?
A: By City Ordinance you can put a Manufactured (double wide) or modular home in residential districts, unless the subdivision has restrictions that forbit the placement of these type of home within the subdivision.  Single wide mobile homes can only be placed in approved Mobile Home Parks within the City Limits.

Q:     Can I put my fence on my the property?
A: Yes:  a fence can be placed on the property, however; if the fence exceeds 8 feet in height, you are required to get a permit before installing.