City of Forest Hills petitions to change streets named after Confederacy

Forest Hills
Posted at 1:13 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 18:21:19-04

FOREST HILLS, Tenn. (WTVF) — Cities across the nation have memorials and monuments that represent historical figures and events. However, as time progresses some of these pieces of history can be seen as insensitive and a catalyst for controversy.

The City of Forest Hills has been made aware of this reality recently because of five streets in the city: Confederate Drive, General Forrest Court, Robert E. Lee Court, Robert E. Lee Drive and Jefferson Davis Drive.

A petition for a waiver to change the names of the streets was sent out on April 13, 2022, to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016, T.C.A. § 4-1-412. The petition was posted in the Green Hills Newspaper on April 14, 2022.

legal notice, City of Forest Hills petition

The City of Forest Hills stated that "there is a material and substantial need for a waiver based on both a historical and other compelling public interest" in the petition.

All of the streets have been vandalized within the past few years in some way. Affidavits from two separate events can be found on the City of Forest Hills website.

The vandalism and violence against these streets served as inspiration for city officials to pursue a petition to rename the streets in order to prevent any other violent acts from occurring.

In the petition, city officials state, "The City is also concerned about vandalism and the potential for violence in the event of public racially charged events. Each new event brings a great number of calls to the City, and each time, the calls become more intense."

Officials continue by explaining how the decision to name the streets after parts of the Confederacy came from private developers and not the city itself.

"The City is concerned that people who live in the City, and people who pass through the City, do not know the origin of the names, i.e., that they were chosen by a developer, not by the elected and appointed leadership of the City, or the citizens in Forest Hills," the petition reads.

However, the streets themselves are a part of "public real property" meaning that Forest Hills owns the streets and is expected to maintain them, referenced in Act. TCA 4-1-412 (a)(8).

Since the streets are public real property named after historic entities and figures, they are considered memorials under TCA 4-1-412 (a)(7). This makes it necessary for the city to file the petition in order to change the names.

A list of potential names the streets could be given is also provided including Bent Tree Drive, Orchard Hill Drive, Box Turtle Court, Red Tail Hawk Drive and Winterberry Drive. These new name suggestions all reference wildlife and or plant life that are found within the City of Forest Hills.

To read the full petition and to view other documents tied to the petition visit the City of Forest Hills website.