Sewer code stalling home sales - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Sewer code stalling home sales

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)  --  Some Chattanooga realtors are concerned a city code could stall recent surges in home sales.

The code was a adopted almost a year ago to replace decaying clay and cast iron pipes leaking raw sewage and stormwater into the Tennessee river.

Repairs can range from $3,000 to $10,000 causing some to buyers to say "no deal".  "It's gonna put a burden on certain sales in neighborhoods that really don't need an extra burden," says Managing Broker, Byron Kelly with Prudential Realty Center in Chattanooga.   

Kelly is referring to homes like the one on Duncan Avenue, a home the broker says is part of a growing trend in the housing industry.

"The older home is actually a very popular choice right now for a lot of families," Kelly says.  "The price is affordable but these buyers also want to add value to that home." 

The ideas is to remodel and revamp homes in older parts of the city like St. Elmo, Brainerd and Tiftonia.  The only problem is two significant roadblocks keep getting in the way.

"We still have a lot of old lines in this city," says Gary Hilbert, Director of Land Development.   

Hilbert is referring to clay and cast iron pipes which after decades of decay leak raw sewage and stormwater into the main.

"That over burdens the Moccasin Bends Treatment Plant," Hilbert says. 

Under the code homeowners applying for remodel permits of more than 30% of the homes appraised value automatically have to undergo a pipe inspection.  If the sewer lines don't pass inspection, repairs become the homeowner's burden.

"Pending sales are up nearly 90% this spring from last year," says Kelly.  "We've got great momentum in our local economy." 

Momentum Kelly and others in the industry worry government regulation will squash significantly.  Hilbert says it's just part of bringing the city up to date.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has a lot of regulations they put on the city," Hilbert says.  "Part of that is getting old sewers replaced." 

If a homeowner refuses to make repairs the city ultimately has the right to take that person to court.

A city program called SLAP will cover remodel costs, but only for qualifying low income households.  To find out more about call 311. 

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