Shelby County Commissioners vote to transfer land to Buehler - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County Commissioners vote to transfer land to Buehler

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) -  Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks was brought to tears at special meeting Wednesday to settle a mounting battle between her and a local developer.

After a yearlong battle to prevent developer Harold Buehler from building inner city homes that she calls death traps, Brooks did not cast a vote during today's special meeting.  But the debate was often emotional.

"Don't you ever, ever put my child, my three-year-old grandchild and my nine-month-old grandchild's safety at risk," Brooks told Buehler.

The fireworks came amid a resolution to transfer 140 parcels of county land to Buehler.  Brooks and her supporters contend Buehler is creating slums by building rentals instead of homes to buy, and that his homes are death traps with no rear exits.

"We the people would like to revitalize the community with our own taxpayer dollars," resident Stephanie Smith said, in support of Brooks.

Buehler argued many people can't afford to buy in the current economic climate, and other developers are not willing to invest in low-income neighborhoods where empty lots, abandoned homes, and tall grass turn into crime dens.

"I'm all for Mr. Buehler building these homes," resident Tanesha Joyner said. "I live in one."

Residents held up signs and spoke out on both sides.  Meanwhile, commissioners and citizens blasted Buehler for owing $1.2 million in back taxes.

"We have a plan in place to take care of these taxes," Buehler told them.

The debate lasted three hours, and in the end, Buehler beat out Brooks with the condition he catch up on his taxes by the end of next year.

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