In a special called meeting by the Crossville City Council Tuesday night the City Attorney recommended the City Manger, Greg Wood, be suspended for three weeks. The suspension arises from the City’s actions on Wednesday, July 27th, when Police and City Fire Units converged on the Village Inn Hotel and ultimately displaced over 100 tenants using a condemnation order. The basis for the condemnation order according to the City included unsafe living conditions at the Village Inn. Tenants were given 12 hours to vacate the premises and seven days to return for their personal possessions.
Turns out the condemnation and immediate evacuation was not lawful and the residents were allowed to return to the Village Inn the next day after the City Manager told the Village Inn landlord there had been a “procedural error” in the eviction of the residents. According to City Attorney Will Ridley, he was not even aware of the condemnation activities until the next day and only after reading about the event on Crossville News First Facebook page. Ridley indicated that the condemnation was unlawful without going through the court system to get a legal order of condemnation prior to July 27th. The Council agreed with and unanimously voted for the City Attorneys’ recommendation to suspend the City Manager for three weeks or until a resolution to the matter.
The suspension of the City Manager is ‘with pay’ because the City Charter does not provide for suspensions ‘without pay’. The Council voted to give the City Clerk, Valerie Hale, the position of interim City Manager and pay her both her current salary plus the difference of the City Manager’s salary. Attorney Ridley also recommended to the Council they should hire an outside firm to investigate the whole situation independently. The Council did indeed vote unanimously to hire a Chattanooga law firm to conduct a third-party investigation with a cap of $10,000 expenditure for the investigation.
Dr. Buck Wood, who owns the Village Inn, spoke to the Council and said he was never notified of the planned condemnation of his hotel. He also stated he has not been made away prior to July 27th of any code violations at the Inn. Wood said he felt that he and the Council could sit down and work things out without any legal action on either part and without any formal investigation. Mayor Mayberry reiterated they wanted to proceed with the outside law firm conducting an investigation before moving forward. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway was present at the meeting and spoke before the Council. D.A. Dunaway stated he had been following the problems with the Village Inn for some time and had considered bringing a nuisance action against the Village Inn. Dunaway said the Village Inn had been very problematic in the past. Dunaway stated his office was not involved in the events of July 27th and he is no longer considering a nuisance action after the events of the past week.