Commission to review voting laws

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

City commissioners today will review and discuss laws pertaining to Pigeon Forge property owners' voting right, during a work session.

Non-resident property owners may vote in Pigeon Forge elections, up to two owners per parcel. State law "doesn't speak to percentage of ownership," said assistant city manager Eric Brackins, noting that city attorney Jim Gass has researched the issue and submitted a letter to the city about it.

Commissioner Randal Robinson raised the matter of property-rights voting at the Jan. 14 city commission meeting. He objected to non-residents who voted in the Nov. 6 election after being deeded a minimum of 1 percent of Pigeon Forge properties. There was disagreement at the meeting as to a minimum percentage of ownership.

"One percent" voters are one of several controversial issues related to the Nov. 6 referendum that legalized liquor by the drink. Earlier this month, chancellor Telford Forgety voided the result of that referendum, citing poll irregularities. A new referendum will be held March 14.

At the work session, commission members also will review an application for a FEMA grant to acquire and demolish a flood-damaged house on Kings Hill Road. "We had other houses ... that went through the application process, but this was the only one in the area that qualified," Brackins said.

The federal grant is for $223,000. When the city commission meets on Monday, it will decide whether to provide a $74,375 match. "It doesn't have to be all monetary," Brackins said of the city's contribution. For example, demolition work by city employees could count toward the amount.

Additionally, commission members will review a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield for a city employee wellness program, and they will review the restaurant Bullfish Grill's application to operate concessions at LeConte Center. The city's $45 million events facility is scheduled to open in September.

The application is the only one the city has received, Brackins said.

The work session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in meeting room A at City Hall. The next full meeting of the commission is Monday evening.

kburns@themountainpress.com