As downtown Fayetteville shows signs of decay, residents point to lack of oversight by city

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LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. – A recent storm did a number on a few downtown Fayetteville businesses, causing bricks to fall from buildings to the sidewalks below. Storms aside, some residents are concerned an empty building inspector position may cause long-term damage to the historic downtown area.

“The City of Fayetteville needs to get their act together. Their inner politics keep them from actually protecting the citizens of this community,” said Michael Farrar, a local businessman.

Fayetteville has an open position for a building inspector. That job has been open for several months. Fayetteville Mayor Michael Whisenant told NEWS 19 the city does have a certified building inspector within the public works department who is filling in. However, several residents claim no buildings appear to be getting checked with any frequency.

As a whole, after talking to residents in-person, over the phone and checking social media, it appears the community see’s the issue two ways.

View A: Fayetteville leaders are not advising or holding business owners to city codes.

View B: Other people don’t see a problem or they don’t think the city should be focusing on building enforcement.

If you walk around the downtown Fayetteville and look at the brick buildings, you can see some questionable situations. A common issue building owners seem to face is tree roots growing through the brick. One owner told NEWS 19 it wasn’t “too expensive” to fix the issue when it happened to his building.

NEWS 19 saw one building that had broken windows because a tree was growing through the glass. In other instances, bricks appear ready to fall at any moment from higher elevations.

Farrar has several different businesses. He’s a bail bondsman, a car dealer, landlord and more. Farrar himself deals with codes and inspections and so do his customers.

“Some customers we’ve set up say they haven’t been inspected and there’s been nobody to inspect (the building or structure). They are confused on what’s going on. They think there’s no code officers so they are not going in and asking for permits,” said Farrar.

Mayor Whisenant told NEWS 19 that business owners are responsible for the upkeep of their buildings. It appears no one disagrees with that. However, for Farrar and other residents, it’s the lack of care and oversight by the city that is concerning.

“So when this building starts falling apart, yes it’s my responsibility as an owner to take care of it. But if I am one of those owners who is not taking care of that responsibility, then it becomes a danger to the citizens and customers walking around or in these buildings,” said Farrar.

As for why Fayetteville still does not have a building inspector, that isn’t clear. City leaders did not respond to questions about the long open position.

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