City of Ringgold passes Urban Camping ordinance in emergency reading
Ringgold City Council members passed the Urban Camping Ordinance in a unanimous decision Monday, November 12th effective immediately in an emergency reading after citizens commented on the ordinance.
By definition, the ordinance bans an individual from residing in or using a public street, public sidewalk, public park or any other public property within the city for private living accommodations, such as erecting tents or other temporary structures or objects providing shelter; regularly cooking or preparing meals; or other similar activities.
Residents living near Ingles Bridge in Ringgold expressed concerns about registered sex offenders underneath the bridge saying that city officials did not tell them they were living there.
Holly Scott who lives in a walking distance near the bridge said, "It is extremely frustrating and terrifying as a parent to know that this situation is going on literally in your backyard, and not only were you not notified.. you have no way of confirming the information yourself."
Scott was apart of a group that gathered information about the sex offenders living under the bridge. Two of which Channel 3 spoke to previously.
Since at least two of them are living under the bridge and homeless they can not be found in a sex offender registry this was a concern to city council members.
Terry Crawford, a Ringgold City Councilmember said, "I was elected by you people to take care of y'all and with this, I hope we can fulfill that."
During the meeting, city council members decided to amend part of the ordinance by giving an individual 30-days instead of 5 days to pick up any property they may have.
It was also agreed that any personal identification that is picked up by the city like a birth certificate or a driver's license will remain with the city until that person can pick it up.
The emergency passage of the ordinance only made it temporary. In an effort to make it permanent council members must have a first reading of the revised ordinance. That is scheduled for Thursday, November 15th at 5:30 p.m. at the Ringgold United Baptist Church. A community forum is also set for Thursday at 3:00 p.m to discuss the ordinance.
The second reading to make the ordinance permanent is set for the next city council meeting in December.
You can read the full ordinance below: