Property Rights: TN Murfreesboro

Tennessee Murfreesboro Update

Sofas may have to go back indoors
11/14/07
By LEON ALLIGOOD Staff Writer and TURNER HUTCHENS Gannett Tennessee
Measure doesn’t sit well in Murfreesboro
Hey, you, sitting in the duct-taped La-Z-Boy on the front porch. Take note: The Murfreesboro City Council means to end your lounging ways.
Pretty soon, if a new citywide measure is approved, the indoor furniture will have to be moved back inside — or you will be cited.
Mayor Tommy Bragg said he’s not sure why city codes staffers have asked the council to ban indoor sofas and recliners on porches, but “I would assume that it would have some relationship to our university community and neighbors making complaints,” he said.
In other words, college students’ use of ratty furniture is head-butting the aesthetic eye of non-students whose front porches are appointed with conventional outdoor furniture, such as wicker.
A city of more than 90,000 residents, Murfreesboro is home to Middle Tennessee State University, with an enrollment of about 23,000.
Jon Shoemaker, an MTSU student who lives on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, said he doesn’t see the problem. The sofa is a nice place to enjoy the weather and just “chill,” he said.
“If it’s well kept, why not have it on the porch?” Shoemaker said. “All my friends love it.”
The council has approved the proposed ban on first reading. Two more votes are required before the rule is official. The city council meets next at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The proposed law comes after years of complaints from residents about their neighbors’ unsightly and sometimes moldy furniture, said Murfreesboro Building and Codes Department Director Betts Nixon, whose staff would enforce the rule.
Violators would get 10 days to remove the furniture. Those who fail to comply could be cited to Murfreesboro City Court and fined up to $50.
The city’s proposed rule is not unique.
“We don’t allow indoor furniture to be outdoor furniture. It’s been that way for a number of years,” said Billy Fields, spokesman for Metro Nashville codes enforcement office.
As in Murfreesboro’s proposal, homeowners are first asked to move the furniture inside and could face a $50 fine if they don’t.
Franklin has thought about adding such a rule, “but we haven’t done anything on it at this time,” said Gary Luffman, the city’s codes director.
Representatives of Hendersonville, Brentwood and Gallatin said their cities had not considered a front porch sofa measure.
To date, Bragg said he has not been “made aware of any opposition” to Murfreesboro’s proposal.
Some irked by measure
It doesn’t sit too well with Martha Hart, who lives on Academy Street. She said she likes to have breakfast with her family while sitting on the sofa on her porch and doesn’t see what business the city has telling her not to.
“I figure if you own the property, you ought to be able to do what you want to do where you want to do it,” Hart said. “It ain’t hurting nobody, and it’s a comfortable place to sit.”
Nancy Martin, who lives on the south side of Murfreesboro, said she’s glad the city will do something about “ratty old” furniture
in front of houses in the city.
“It’s just not very nice to look at as you drive around,” she said. “It looks trashy.”

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