(Certified Best Practice by BMPCOE)
City of Chattanooga - Chattanooga, TN
The Environmental Court Docket was established in 1991 to address compliance to environmental ordinances and create a better living environment within the City. Prior to this time, Chattanooga had little ability to enforce compliance with housing, zoning, and building ordinances. Although cited in court, cases were not given the same consideration by judges as other cases, thereby making
enforcement difficult and leaving inspectors disillusioned and helpless. The docket was crowded with more serious criminal or traffic offenses that required the court's attention. The condition continued to deteriorate and the number of violators increased.
One afternoon each week was set aside to hear only these environmental cases, allowing the court to send a clear message that Chattanooga was going to clean itself up. In addition to hearing the cases in the courtroom, the judge has held on-site hearings (as necessary) to better understand the alleged ordinance violations and ensure fair and equitable treatment to all parties.
Since the Environmental Court Docket was established, the City has seen the compliance rate increase from 38% to 87%, City inspectors have renewed conviction in their jobs, and communities in Chattanooga are being restored. Safer and cleaner houses are made available to citizens, and the number of illegal dump sites has been greatly reduced.