Green Street Church of Christ has been on a mission to help Nashville’s homeless for years, but now the church says that mission is under fire, reports The Tennessean. In late June, the Metro Nashville Codes Department cited the church for having tents on the property where the homeless sleep, saying the property’s zoning does not allow camping.
The church vows to challenge the citation in court.
“It is the position of the church that they’re protected under federal statute and under the Constitution of the United States,” said William “Tripp” Hunt, the attorney representing the church.
Church leaders say they are following a biblical directive, in the 25th chapter of the book of Mark, to help house the poor.
“In that chapter, it says that if you help the poor you are helping Jesus himself,” Hunt said. “Under that basis alone they feel that it is their obligation to help the poor.
“Where it stands now, the city’s prosecuting them for having the homeless encampment there.”
Excerpt from a report on secret code names used by the Department of Economic and Community Development from the Nashville Business Journal: Spaghetti. Tango. Washington. Pearl. Buckeye. And let’s not forget Project Dark, named after the Bruce Springsteen music video, “Dancing in the Dark,” where Springsteen pulls Courtney Cox onto the stage.
The names — though rather innocuous on the surface — each represent what officials consider a critical piece to the economic development process: keeping the names of companies that might expand or relocate here secret.
Whether it’s 600 new jobs or the expansion of existing business, project code names are created to hide the identity of the company until a final announcement. Sometimes it’s to keep sleuthing reporters off the trail (as was the case when Mars Petcare decided to change their project name to Project Skylar from Project Beta after we printed a story about their plans).
But more often, it’s a measure economic development officials said protects employees from conjecturing about future company plans and ensures that landowners don’t gouge prices when they realize there is a powerhouse knocking on the door.
…”Obviously, it is best to select a code name that has no relationship to the company. Even the most sophisticated/clever project code names can reveal a company identity if there is some type of ‘tie in’ to the company,” said Jeff Hite, director of business recruitment for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce . “For example, several years ago Project Zeta was connected to the company. At the time of the project, Catherine Zeta-Jones was the spokesperson for T-Mobile and this project turned out to be a customer service center for T-Mobile.”…
…”We usually use a first name, a reminder of who the client reminds us of, a location, a fan favorite,” said Carlyle Carol, vice president of economic development for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce . “Yet never anything that would give the project away.”
Example? Dell Computer’s plans were nicknamed Project Farmer. The company first moved to the area in May 1999, opening a 260,000-square-foot plant in Lebanon to produce desktop computers. The code name’s alleged connection, Carol said, was to the lyrics from “The Farmer in the Dell.”
Larisa Brass has an update on the law, approved by the Legislature two years ago, that mandated building codes for local governments statewide — except for those who decided they didn’t want building codes. Quite a few rejected the codes, but the state is now urging they reconsider.
An excerpt from her story: Of the state’s 95 counties, 36 local governments have voted, by a two-thirds margin, to opt-out of the code requirements. Forty-three municipal government bodies have opted out as well.
Tennessee ranks third among states in per capita fire deaths and first in per capita residential electricity consumption, and the code was touted as a way to improve those statistics.
The new code was part of an initiative by then- Gov. Phil Bredesen, partly in response to strings attached to federal stimulus dollars. The Department of Energy estimates a home built to current code requirements results in 30 percent to 40 percent in energy savings.
The law set up a statewide code enforcement system, meaning local jurisdictions weren’t required to fund or carry out inspections, and offered $100,000 in federal stimulus dollars to governments that went along.
Despite these incentives, more than one-third of counties and a fistful of primarily small, rural towns said no.
….The state is trying again to get those local governments to change their minds.
‘I’m going to be going out there and doing a personal contact with these cities and counties,’ says Gary Farley, director of contract inspection services. He’ll talk about safety and that because using licensed contractors is required under the code, it ‘levels the playing field’ for the industry.
Claiborne County is one of those reconsidering its opt-out vote, according to county Mayor Jack Daniels.
At the time the law was passed, Daniels says, ‘The main concern I had was … you know the construction and stuff had been hit so hard in this economy. I didn’t want to interfere with people trying, maybe, to get a little work to feed their families. But now that we are more familiar with it, we are considering opting back in.’
One incentive, according to Robin Mason, Claiborne County’s director of economic and community development, has been the potential impact on state grants.
After receiving a letter from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development that its block grants for energy efficiency and conservation were tied to acquiescence to the state’s code system, Mason says county officials began worrying that opting out might have unanticipated consequences.
‘We’re trying to gather all the information that we can to kind of weigh our options and evaluate what’s best for the county,’ she says. She and Daniels plan to pass along that information to county commissioners in October.