Rutherford County will hold Environmental Court as a division of General Sessions Court. The first Environmental Court will be held on June 6, 2018, at the Rutherford County Judicial Building. Environmental Court will continue to be held on the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. and presided by Judge Lisa Eischeid.
Environmental Court is designed to deal strictly with local environmental issues such as illegal dumping, neglected property, safety and health code violations, animal control, and illegal burning. Environmental issues have always been an important matter for Rutherford County courts, however have never had their own time and been put before their own judge in court. The current environmental laws are not being changed through the establishment of environmental court.
In regards to the importance of having an Environmental Court date specified each month, Judge Eischeid states, “By having a specified court date for environmental violations, we save county employee time and resources. Employees now have a consistent time and day each month that they will be present in court regarding any environmental violations.”
Building Codes Director, Tanya Bell reiterated, “By having Court dedicated to these violations, it relieves the affiliated department staff from countless hours spent in General Sessions Court and allows them to better utilize their time and resources out in the community on field enforcement.“
Environmental Court will be utilized by various Rutherford County Departments, to include, but not limited to:
- Zoning Ordinance enforcement
- Property maintenance
- Tall weeds & grass
- Vacant/dilapidated buildings
- Construction without approval/permits
- Unapproved business operation
Animal Services (PAWS)
- Animals running at large
- Abuse, neglect and cruelty to animals
- Failure to vaccinate
Fire and Rescue
- Illegal burning
- Fire code compliance
- Illegal burns involving hazardous materials
- Negligent releases of hazardous materials
“We have seen an influx in illegal dumping in the last few years. We hope that having an assigned Environmental Court day will allow for violations to be addressed officially. We are hoping to bring cultural change through the use of environmental court,” said Solid Waste Director, Mac Nolen.
Residents can report environmental violations through the Rutherford County Government departmental websites, or calling the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number at (615) 898-7720.
Residents can learn more about these violations through the listed department’s Rutherford County website at www.rutherfordcountytn.gov.