Rumors are swirling around the city of Clinton about supposedly missing building permits that could, if anyone unearths them, prove problematic for current Mayor Scott Burton.
Clinton is in Anderson County, near Oak Ridge.
An internal memorandum created by a city official reportedly claims Burton skipped out on paying various building permit fees, which could be a violation of the law.
Burton is currently running for reelection. His opponent is Stephen McNally.
Various sources have told The Tennessee Star about the internal memorandum, but they also said they have not seen it with their own eyes.
Two weeks ago, rumors of missing building permits made their way into a mayoral debate on radio station WYSH, according to on-air personality Jim Harris.
According to an article Harris posted today on the station’s website, WYSH asked listeners to submit questions for both candidates in advance of the debate.
“During the debate we asked the question, not quite like the way it was phrased to us, because the way it was phrased made it sound like he (Burton) had been doing something illegal, sketchy, and shady,” Harris told The Star Tuesday.
“We neatened it up a little so it was more of a benign question.”
The question, according to Harris’ post, concerned whether Burton, who owns several rental properties in town, obtained the needed permits to perform work on them.
During the debate, the station went on to say, Burton said he had not gotten any permits, since the work was primarily done on heat and air units. Burton said those units did not require permits.
Harris, however, found out later a permit is indeed required.
“WYSH continued to follow up, and Clinton Building Official Curtis Perez said that, since the debate, Burton or his contractors had obtained and paid for ‘years-old’ permits on four projects, which indicates that they had not been properly obtained in the first place,” according to the station’s website.
Harris told The Star he filed a public records request for any building permits either candidate had ever filed.
City records indicated Burton had one from 2006 for a project at his house.
McNally, meanwhile, had one for an in-ground pool at his house in 2015.
“Those are the only two on file. There were never any building permits filed by Scott Burton [for locations other than his residence]. We continue to get information that there are at least five that are out there,” Harris said.
“Between October 12 and, apparently, this morning, at least four of the permits that were not initially pulled and paid for [by Burton] were pulled and paid for. Whether it was Mr. Burton’s contractors, whether someone else, I’m not sure, but we know that four since that debate have been paid and properly obtained.”
City Manager Roger Houck told The Star Friday he does not know about the situation, other than what happened on the radio.
Harris, though, said he has “heard rumblings about some sort of interdepartmental communication” that reveals everything.
“I would like to get a hold of that document that I keep hearing about, but, thus far, I haven’t been able to do that. We are still working on it,” Harris said.
On Monday, The Star filed an open records request for all the city government’s external and internal communications within its building department that relate to building permits and their fees between Sept. 22 of this year and Oct. 22 that include or mention Burton.
City officials Gina Ridenour acknowledged receiving the request Monday. As of Tuesday morning, though, she and other city officials have not produced anything.
“I have forwarded your request to our codes enforcement officer and as soon as I have heard from him I will let you know,” Ridenour said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
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