MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A state lawmaker was mistaken about the facts of a restaurant’s zoning issues when he used the case of Papa’s Butts and BBQ Hot Sauce Store as an example of the creeping influence of the United Nations in Tennessee, a city official said.
Republican Rep. Rick Womick cited the store’s issues with the city of Murfreesboro in remarks on the House floor to support a resolution urging the rejection of the UN’s Agenda 21 on sustainable development.
But Murfreesboro Planning Director Joseph Aydelott told the Daily News Journal for Friday’s editions (http://on.dnj.com/yMjxz8 ) that Womick had the facts wrong about the case heading for a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals on March 28.
And Aydelott told the paper that Agenda 21 has nothing to do with the case. “I don’t really know what that is, except for what I’ve read in the paper,” he said.
Womick told fellow lawmakers that following an annexation a few years ago, the city demanded the store’s owner, Dan Wilson, repaint the yellow building and pave the gravel parking lot. When Wilson refused, the city sent health inspectors to the restaurant, Womick said.
“This is what we’re talking about: Aesthetics, government overreach, overstepping,” Womick said. “This is Agenda 21.”
Aydelott said the reason Wilson’s business fell under new code rules was because he converted it from a fencing company to a restaurant after the annexation took place, and because he didn’t seek the necessary permits to do so.
The paved parking lot is necessary for new businesses under city rules, Aydelott said, but the paint scheme has never been an issue.
“There’s no effort whatsoever to regulate the colors of his building,” he said.
Additionally, the city has no control over restaurant inspections because they are conducted by the state Department of Health, Aydelott said.
Wilson said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he was shocked to find his store at the center of a political debate.
“The city and I started off on the wrong foot, but things have gotten much better,” he said. “The color of my building has never played into the situation.”
Wilson said he never asked Womick to publicize his case and that he’s been calling city officials, including the city planner and the mayor, to assure them he wasn’t behind the criticism of city zoning laws.
“I did not authorize that and I’m not happy,” Wilson said. “I surely didn’t want anyone to use me to slam anyone up here for their own personal agenda.”
“If I have a problem, I will fight my own battles,” he said.
Womick did not immediately return a message left at his legislative office in Nashville.
The resolution sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland “recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nation Agenda.” It passed 72-23 in the House on Thursday despite being vigorously opposed — and mocked — by the chamber’s Democrats.
“It’s kind of like children have imaginary friends, and Republicans have imaginary enemies,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Tuner of Nashville told reporters after the floor session.
Read HJR0587 at http://capitol.tn.gov