tent citiesPADUCAH, KY (12/13/11) – In response to the recent signing of trespassing complaints and a request for assistance by affected property owners, this morning the Paducah Police Department notified the people living in the area known as “Tent City” that they will need to seek alternate shelter by noon tomorrow. Tent City is located on City of Paducah and private property at the end of Tennessee Street. Several homeless people have chosen to set up tents on the properties.
 
Officers visited the site this morning, talked with the people on the properties, and handed each person a flyer that states
 
The property on which you are staying is private property. The owners of these properties no longer will allow you to stay here. Therefore, you are hereby ordered to remove your property and vacate the premises/area by: 12/14/11 at 1200 hours (Noon). If you do not vacate by the above date and time given, you may be arrested in violation of KRS 511.080, Trespassing.
 
At the bottom of the flyer is a list of organizations, along with their phone numbers and addresses, that can provide assistance. The City of Paducah has contacted the various agencies and verified that they have adequate space for additional residents. Officers offered to make contacts and transport the people in Tent City to friends, family, or one of the organizations that can provide assistance. No trespassing signs will be placed on the properties as soon as possible.
 
City Manager Jeff Pederson says, “The safest and legal option for those living in the Tent City area is to seek shelter with friends or family or at a designated agency that provides shelter and can meet their needs.” Pederson adds, “As we head into the colder, winter months, we are afraid for the health and safety of those trying to live outdoors. There are local shelter options that can provide people with food and a warm place to stay.”
 
In addition to the trespassing issue, the City of Paducah has become aware of a life safety concern at Tent City and is obligated to protect those living in its city limits. The colder weather has led to the erection of large tents that are being heated by wood burning stoves. The City of Paducah is working with the property owners to have the tents removed. The Kentucky Building Code, Kentucky Residential Code, and their referenced codes will not allow the use of a portable storage buildings or tents as temporary or permanent residences. The purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety, and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. Prior to the occupancy of any structure, construction document submittals must be obtained, reviewed, and approved by the City of Paducah Inspection Department.
 
The Kentucky Residential code mandates minimal provisions for all one and two-family residential structures. Those provisions stipulate square footage of habitable space, light and ventilation requirements, permanent heat source, permanent kitchen facilities, permanent sanitation facilities and the utilities required for them, emergency escape and egress, smoke and carbon monoxide detection, and interior finishes.
 
The Paducah Planning Department is moving forward with a recommendation to amend the zoning ordinance to allow homeless shelters within the Paducah city limits. The introduction of the ordinance amendment is scheduled for tonight’s City Commission Meeting. If approved by the Paducah City Commission, the ordinance would outline requirements for a homeless shelter including location constraints, permit requirements, and shelter standards. Before any structure could be utilized as a homeless shelter, an application for a Conditional Use Permit would need to be filed which would include a public hearing and Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment approval.
 
The following agencies are available to provide assistance
• River City Mission, 1466 Bechtold Road, Paducah, 442-7921
• Paducah Cooperative Ministry, 402 Legion Drive, Paducah, 442-6795
• Four Rivers Behavioral Health, 425 Broadway, Paducah, 442-7121
• Department of Veterans Affairs, Paducah Community Based Outpatient Clinic,620 Perkins Creek Drive, Paducah, 444-8465
• Family Services Society, 827 HC Mathis Drive, Paducah, 443-4838
 
SurfKY News
Information provided by Pam Spencer

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