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Even though the word "wrecker" is right there in its name, the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker commission doesn't see a lot of violations cases, or even applications from the towing industry. It heard two on Thursday during a three-hour session made longer because of questions on an ordinance and other interpretations.

Conley's Wrecker Service was found in violation for overcharging a customer for a gate fee, extra equipment use and additional cleanup materials needed to clean an oil spill. The commission determined that the ordinance did not allow for such charges. The gate fee, for example, was added to the bill according to Brandon Ratledge with Conley because the service has to keep cars it recovers inside a locked gate until the owner or the insurance company retrieves it. Once contacted that the wrecker is on the way, Conley moves it outside the gate to a larger area.

Ratledge told that commission they do that because too often, an third party wrecker company is sent to get the car and "they damage our property, and we have to recover that cost." And, he said, moving it takes manpower and time.

Commissioner Chris Keene pointed out that it's their responsibility to retrieve repair costs from the company that caused the damage, "not your customer. I shouldn't have to pay for something that was damaged by somebody else three months ago. Or, for something that might happen later. That's gouging."

The city contracts with several area wrecker services to recover wrecked vehicles on a rotating call system. Conley will be removed from the city's call roll for 30 days as a result of the violations.

The second wrecker violation case was for Yates Wrecker, which had been cited for violating the city ordinance requiring that a service on the city's call roll have a physical business office within the district. Yates operates out of its home office in Ringgold, Georgia, but it also has a location on Chickamauga Loop near the Chattanooga Airport. Eric Yates told the commission he has not had a person on site there because of COVID-19 concerns and a lack of manpower, and didn't know the ordinance specifically required it. The case was passed to the next meeting so the commission could gather more information.

Members also had questions about why they apparently see so many incomplete applications. An application cannot be considered until the owner has been approved by the city's health, fire and building inspectors and has a certificate of occupancy. Three of the six applications on Thursday were moved to the next meeting in two weeks because either the building or fire inspections had been complicated.

Permit requests from Flaming Rooster on Broad Street for consumer and carryout, Chattanooga Sports Bar & Grill for consumer and Whole Food Market on Gunbarrel, which is applying for consumer and carryout permits under new ownership were passed to the next meeting.

It is the owners responsibility to get the inspections scheduled, city zoning inspector Randy Ridge pointed out. Chairman Dan Mayfield said he hoped a new online process set to begin Nov. 23 would make things clearer and easier.

In a lighter moment, a scream of delight from Diamound Brown after the commission approved her request to sell beer at Chatty's Restaurant on Milne Street brought laughs and claps from members of the board on Thursday.

"That's a first for us," said Brooke King.

"We need more of that," said Mayfield.

The commission also applauded her commitment to the Avondale community after she told them she had purchased several lots behind her place to both provide some revenue for the neighborhood association to alleviate parking issues in are. She plans to cut some trees and pave the lots.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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