Wed
Jul 28 2010
07:24 pm
By: agrarianurbanite  shortURL

Where to even begin? I find myself shaking my head two times in less than a week and asking, “For real? For real, this is where I live? Really, Knoxville is this backward?”

Suddenly, last night’s city council meeting wasn’t about chickens, but about violating the Constitution of the United States of America. Many viewers sat dumbfounded as Nick Della Volpe defended his 5th proposed ordinance change of the evening; an addition to Ordinance 9b, Section 5-107 subsection (k) -Denial, suspension or revocation of permit:

“The Animal Control Board shall have the right to enter the permitted property during reasonable daylight hours to inspect the hen enclosure and condition of the animals in the enforcement of this law, and shall have the authority to enter the property at any time in case of emergency or health threat, and to remove chickens from the premises, if necessary.”

Representative Marilyn Roddy asked Debbie Poplin, Law Director, if other ordinances in regards to other animals had wording like this. Debbie Poplin stated the “emergency” clause was already in place in regards to other animals. But that wasn’t the part that concerned Roddy. Roddy focused on the first 33 words:
“The Animal Control Board shall have the right to enter the permitted property during reasonable daylight hours to inspect the hen enclosure and condition of the animals in the enforcement of this law…”

To this, Poplin responded that there was no other ordinance on record like that. All present were to find out that there was a reason for that.

In a break with City Council protocol, Nick Pavlis, noticing someone in the crowd trying to get council’s attention, invited a man to address council though he had not signed-up to speak. No one recognized the man. He had no affiliation with any person or group present, and what he pulled from his folder surprised us all.

The Bill of Rights sat in his hands. Before he read, he explained that he had had no intention of speaking that night and that he wasn’t that great a speaker, but he had something he needed to say.

He read Amendment #4 which guards against unwarranted searches and seizures. It reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

When he finished reading, he stated, “I can’t believe you forgot about this. I might look like a hippie, but I’m a [military] vet and what you’re saying is an insult to what I fought for.” At that point, a light bulb lit the audience members’ minds and a cheer went up for the stranger. Now, the discussion wasn’t about chickens, it was about defending the 4th Amendment.

Della Volpe’s proposed ordinance change means that animal control, a police entity, has the right to enter a private citizen’s yard without probable cause or former notice to inspect a coop, and if sees fit, remove the chickens. Della Volpe responded to the man’s statement by basically saying that when a person purchases a (chicken) permit, in buying that permit, that person waives their constitutional rights.

Della Volpe’s change to section (k) went to vote. Five council members voted yes. Chris Woodhull, Marilyn Roddy, and Joe Bailey stood strong and voted no. It was mentioned before the vote that the city’s law department could hash-out the wording of the change, but maybe what really should have happened is that City Council should have told Della Volpe to take his amendment change and shove it down his throat.

For remaining strong in the face of adversity, Marilyn Roddy, Chris Woodhull and Joe Bailey are my new local heroes.

Do you think the New York Times will pick this one up? The News Sentinel sure didn’t.

The final vote last night was again unanimous, but nothing is over. The ordinance still needs to go through a second reading, in which time; Della Volpe will continue to come up with more changes to keep delaying the vote unless some of his constituents outside Fountain City Town Hall speak up, but that’s another story. I personally think that the man should be removed from office.

Final Note:
You may recall that Dr. Chad Hellwinckel and a group of citizens started the Knoxville Urban Hen Coalition (KUHC) in February 2009. They have worked very hard at educating Knoxville about chickens. They have been very professional, patient, and diplomatic in all their efforts and especially during the last six weeks of negotiations on Ordinance 9b, Section 5-107.

After last night’s outburst from the crowd, some people did not appreciate the cheers and attributed it to Dr. Hellwinckel’s “group”. As not to create any more confusion as to who may or may not be a part of Dr. Hellwinckel’s “group”, I resigned from the Knoxville Urban Hen Coalition. I wouldn’t want my writing to somehow be misconstrued and thought to be the views of KUHC. I reflect my own personal views, which may or may not be professional, patient, or diplomatic.

354
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Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

You probably exercise an overabundance of caution in resigning, agie. I've very much enjoyed hearing from you, in your own voice (and I've been showing my husband websites where we could order a coop :-)

But about Nick's amendment: Do you suppose those four others who approved it on first reading did so because they expect to research this "4th amendment" matter further before next month's meeting?

I wouldn't think that dropping Nick's amendment next month would constitute a "substantial change," and Council could still approve the ordinance as a second reading at that time?

redmondkr's picture

Didn't Alcoa or Maryville toy

Didn't Alcoa or Maryville toy with similar language a few years ago when they were considering an ordinance about the number of dogs a resident was permitted to keep?

bizgrrl's picture

Yes, we discussed a similar

Yes, we discussed a similar issue with the City of Alcoa as they were revising the animal ordinance, animals being dogs, cats, not chickens. In working with the City of Alcoa, we did not accuse them of "violating the Constitution of the United States of America" when getting a few words changed in an ordinance.

We agreed on the following text, which is the current law.

10-133. Right of entry.
(1) Whenever it is necessary to make an
inspection to enforce any of the provisions of or perform any duty imposed by this chapter or other applicable law, or whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that there exists in any building or upon any premises any violation of
the provisions of this chapter or other applicable law, any animal control or police officer is hereby empowered to enter such property at any reasonable time and to inspect the property and perform any duty imposed by this chapter or
other applicable law, but only if the consent of the occupant or owner of the property is freely given or a search warrant is obtained, as follows:

(a) If such property is occupied, the animal control officer or police officer shall first present proper credentials to the occupant and request entry, explaining the reasons there for;

(b) If such property is unoccupied, the animal control officer or police officer shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the property, present proper credentials and request entry, explaining the reasons there for; and

(c) If such entry is refused or cannot be obtained because the
owner or other person having charge or control of the property cannot be found after due diligence, the animal control or police officer shall obtain a warrant to conduct a search of the property.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any animal control or police officer shall have the authority to enter upon any property to enforce the provisions of this chapter if a violation of such law is being committed in the presence of officer.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Conspicuously missing

Knoxville's proposal, again:

“The Animal Control Board shall have the right to enter the permitted property during reasonable daylight hours to inspect the hen enclosure and condition of the animals in the enforcement of this law, and shall have the authority to enter the property at any time in case of emergency or health threat, and to remove chickens from the premises, if necessary.”

I hear you as to How to Win Friends and Influence People, Bizgrrl, but it looks to me like a very important phrase from Alcoa's ordinance is conspicuously missing from Knoxville's, namely the one that says "but only if the consent of the occupant or owner of the property is freely given or a search warrant is obtained."

bizgrrl's picture

a very important phrase from

a very important phrase from Alcoa's ordinance is conspicuously missing from Knoxville's, namely the one that says "but only if the consent of the occupant or owner of the property is freely given or a search warrant is obtained."

Exactly. But, that is not how it started out.

Original text:

It shall be the duty and authority of the Chief of Police or his authorized representative to enter onto any premises, public or private, to make inspections for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of Chapter 10.”

We discussed the proposed text with the city and they agreed to change it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Amazing, tho

Gotcha.

Amazing that both cities originally overlooked this, tho, isn't it?

Forget about Nick's background--where were the cities' own attornies?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

(Blush)

Forget about Nick's background--where were the cities' own attornies?

(Forgive me for wasting bandwidth, but I can't let that one stay up. "Attorneys.")

Up Goose Creek's picture

Press

Maybe the press knows this section won't be enforced. But it does seem heavy handed to even put the wording in there. What was DelaVolpe thinking? Good for the Veteran for speaking his piece.

Rachel's picture

Della Volpe responded to the

Della Volpe responded to the man’s statement by basically saying that when a person purchases a (chicken) permit, in buying that permit, that person waives their constitutional rights.

Della Volpe said this because his amendment made a condition of getting the permit argeeing to the inspection "during any reasonable daylight hours". In other words, by agreeing to the permit, you are agreeing to losing your rights to keep the City off your property for "chicken" inspection.

This might be legal, but I'm with Marilyn Roddy in not liking it. I suspect it will be debated more on second reading. I strongly suggest that a few email/calls to Council might help. I also suggest that those communications should be calm (e.g., no calling for Della Volpe's ouster, no matter how angry you might be.)

BTW, it made me realize that the City recently came onto my property illegally. Someone (I suspect one person in the 'hood who makes a habit out of reporting things to codes) reported our lightly used old Honda Accord as an "abandoned vehicle." (The car is fully operational, with current registration.) We know this because one day we noticed a Codes truck parked in front, and a guy IN THE DRIVEWAY examining the car. A minute or so after I noticed him, he left. I called Joe Hultquist, who was then my council member, and he said "yup, somebody reported this and the file is now marked closed."

At the time, my irritation was focused at the person who reported us. But last night I realized that the inspector had no right to come on our property without permission. He didn't even bother to knock on our door.

I'm pondering whether/how to report this.

Pam Strickland's picture

As for KNS not reporting:

As for KNS not reporting: Rebecca had extremely limited space and had to make some tough choices about what to report about the meeting. I am not the least bit envious of what the KNS local government reporters face when it comes to squeezing the news produced into the ever shrinking news hole.

bill young's picture

My 2 cents

I don't understand why the proposed ordinance,per the post,says:

"The Animal Control Board shall have the right to enter permitted property" & not "Animal Control or police officers
shall..."

The Animal Control Board can not act as quickly as
KPD in matters concerning the conditions regarding
animals.

Trust me,if conditions are rapidly deteriorating one needs to
act & act in a New York second.

So I want to make sure the proposed ordinance says "KPD"
not "Animal Control Board".

Because I wouldn't want the "Chicken Ordinance" to conflict
with any other ordinance concerning the emergency power of KPD in regard to animal control.

My point is,if conditions are rapidly deteriorating,with respect to one violating the "Chicken Ordinance"..

I would not want KPD's abilty to act,quickly,to be curtailed waiting on a decision by the Animal Control Board.

I do not oppose the "Chicken Ordinance."

However,we do not know the ramifications of the "Chicken Ordinace" if passed on 2nd reading.

And we need to be mindfull that something one thought to be a problem..may not be but something one hasn't even thought of is.

I will tell you that my experience with KPD's Animal Control
officers is that they are fine folks that do an outstanding job.

And Karen Pappas is as fine a person as you would ever want to meet!

Therefore,I would not fear KPD Animal Control officers going
off,half cocked.

It could very well be that all aspects of emergency enforcement of any ordinance concerning animal control is already covered in the existing city code.

And the "Chicken Ordinance" only needs to address the minimum standards for permitting.

Mary the prez's picture

Good grief...what a waste of time and taxpayer money!

The Knoxville City Council may well make the WSJ...like County Commission did several years ago...for focusing on the inane, wasting time on owning chickens or not, and now apparently disregarding the Bill of Rights in the process. Della Volpe was an attorney for 30+ years. He should have done more legal work on that simple amendment before he proposed it.

He is Councilman for my District, but so far I have not been impressed about what he has done, or not done, to help us here in East Knoxville...

Let's disregard his amendment since is was not legal, and in tribute to the Veteran who had the courage and integrity to challenge it, and move on.

rocketsquirrel's picture

perhaps this empowered board

perhaps this empowered board could ride on horseback to suppress a riot of rancorous hens. a new use for posse comitatus--literally, "force of the county," from English common law.

(Not to be confused with the US Posse Comitatus Act, which limits military use in law enforcement.)

somehow, i think the Haslam campaign is not gonna be happy with this. Word is that this vote was being delayed to get past the GOP primary and avoid a troublesome vote.

If the urban hens folks really want this thing through, they should wait til after the election. Not sure where this poison amendment came from...really. When there is an election going on, all kinds of things start happening. Got a thing the other day on my neighborhood list in north Knoxville from Commissioner Broyles about rabid bats over on campus...

rabid bats? chicken fights? must be election time in east Tennessee.

Rachel's picture

Word is that this vote was

Word is that this vote was being delayed to get past the GOP primary and avoid a troublesome vote.

I'd be interested in where you got that "word" cause it sounds like chicken manure to me.

rocketsquirrel's picture

Don't believe me...Haul some

Don't believe me...Haul some early voters and listen to what they have to say.

Rachel's picture

What I'm saying is is this

What I'm saying is is this speculation or is there really an informed "word?"

Up Goose Creek's picture

Polling

I'd be curious what the voters you've talked to had to say, RS.

I'm trying to figure out whether a chicken vote would be positive or negative in a statewide election. 'Course I guess Wamp could spin it as negative if he chose to.

Bbeanster's picture

I haven't heard that the

I haven't heard that the chicken vote is a factor in the gubernatorial race. I do believe that some are trying to use the TYP to peel votes off Haslam in KC, though.

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