East Ridge dissolves Housing & Redevelopment Authority


EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (WDEF) — The East Ridge City Council called a special meeting Monday morning to discuss the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

East Ridge City Council members voted unanimously to dissolve the controversial commission, with Mayor Brent Lambert voting “present.”

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This comes after dozens of angry citizens essentially stormed the previous meeting last Thursday. The council members heard their frustration and granted their wish sooner than expected.

Monday, East Ridge residents flooded city hall, some with shirts, others with signs, but all attending to hear the verdict on the disputed Housing Redevelopment Authority. Many entered angry — but left pleased.

“I’m glad that the citizens of East Ridge came together for something. I’ve never seen this many people in the courtroom or council room. And I’m glad to see that that many people were interested and came out, or it would not have gotten resolved like it was.,” East Ridge resident Gregg Shapley said.

The commission was originally created as a way of cleaning up the commercial areas of the city.

But then a letter was sent to thousands of homeowners warning their private property would be included in the redevelopment areas of the city.

“It’s caused a lot of anxiety and stress for the people in our town,” homeowner Charles Howell said. “The way it’s worded, if you were to read the document, is very disturbing. Eminent domain is mentioned. These things are all very scary things to public citizens.”

East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert says the intention was never to displace citizens from their homes. He told the city council that he can’t think of an instance where the housing authority would target homes in good repair with families living in them.

But the verbiage in the letter left citizens confused and fearful.

“When we didn’t communicate as well as we needed to initially when those letters went out, I think it led to confusion. Confusion quickly transitioned to fear. Fear quickly went to anger, and we have the flare up that we have,” Mayor Lambert said.

The question remains as to how the city will deal with the blighted areas in the commercial sector. But East Ridge residents will be keeping a close eye on their city government moving forward.

“This is our community, and we’re not going to be pushed around by any one. We’re the citizens of East Ridge, and that’s what we believe in — each other,” Howell said.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority will need to convene at least one more time to start the process of dissolving. But citizens say they no longer have to fear for their homes.

But after 15 minutes of discussion, the council voted to dissolve the East Ridge Housing and Redevelopment Authority. News 12 Now’s Angela Moryan will have more details tonight at 6.