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VOL. 35 | NO. 31 | Friday, August 5, 2011




Nashville sues Forest Hills over city court

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Nashville is suing one of its wealthy satellite cities to prevent it from creating its own municipal court.

Forest Hills Mayor Bill Koch said the court is needed to force the city's 6,144 residents to comply with city ordinances.

""We have to jawbone people into doing things. That's why we'd like to have our own judge." Koch told The Tennessean (http://bit.ly/qwUjx4). ..."If a yard is unkempt, we need to be able to force people to mow the yard. It's no big deal. We're just trying to enforce our ordinances when we need to."

The 9.3-square-mile city of Forest Hills was incorporated into Metropolitan Nashville nearly 50 years ago.

In its lawsuit filed on Monday, Nashville claims that creating a Forest Hills court would violate the metropolitan charter and would be "contrary to the purposes of consolidation, which include avoiding duplication of government services."

Metro Law Director Sue Cain wrote in a lett er to Mayor Karl Dean and other Metro officials that state law provides a way for satellite cities to enforce their ordinances through the Davidson County General Session Court.

But Forest Hills officials say that is disingenuous, because it does not actually happen.

"We've been trying to talk to them for a couple of years," Forest Hills attorney Matt Foster said. "That effort hasn't been reciprocated. Metro just turns a back to you. They don't return phone calls. They're just not interested in doing anything with the smaller cities."

Koch said he was surprised to learn about the lawsuit. He said that on Thursday, Dean called him to ask that the Forest Hills City Commission put off voting on whether to hire a judge, which they had been scheduled to do that evening.

"At Mayor Dean's request, the city deferred it indefinitely," Foster said. "To get slapped with a lawsuit on Monday is disappointing, to say the least."

Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson disagreed with Koch and Foster's account of events, saying Dean called as a courtesy to tell Koch that Metro would file its lawsuit and did not ask him to defer hiring a judge.

Metro Councilman Carter Todd, who represents Forest Hills, said he was not taking sides in the fight.

"I understand both sides' positions and it's complicated, and we're just going to have to let the courts decide who's right," Todd said.

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