LCUB officials settle lawsuit

Heather Mays - Farragut Press

Lenoir City Utilities Board approved an agreed order for a circuit court case against a Farragut resident at its Dec. 15 meeting.

Lucy Longworth, now deceased, was involved in a lawsuit against LCUB for the condemnation of approximately three-fourths of an acre of easement on her property off Everett Road.

“This is concerning three-phase lining gradings on [Everett Road]. We took about three-fourths of an acre of Ms. Lucy Longworth’s property,” LCUB attorney Shannon Littleton said.

“I think the general manager [Fred Nelson] and I made an offer probably a year ago for $15,000 … but [Mary Long-worth, Lucy’s daughter and an attorney] called two or three weeks ago and she was prepared to take the offer we had made a year ago,” he added.

According to Littleton, the settlement was unexpected; in the past, Mary had the property appraised for about $50,000.

However, Littleton said that high appraisal reflected a “fee purchase,” and easement costs are generally 30 to 40 percent of that price.

LCUB had the easement appraised for about $5,500.

Councilman Tony Aikens didn’t like the idea of paying so much more than LCUB’s appraisal.

“I think we’re sending the wrong message. … We’re just handing them a blank check and I don’t like that,” Aikens said.

However, other Board members said they would rather pay a known sum than allow a jury to decide the cost of the easement for them.

“I think I’d rather settle on the $15,000 right now as opposed to leaving it open and possibly going up,” Pat Beasley, Knox County representative, said.

“We have to buy it eventually … so it’s just a matter, at this point, of how much,” Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire said.

Littleton said the easements would continue to be an item of contention since the town of Farragut has approved widening Everett Road.

The original single phase line on Everett Road has an easement of six feet. When Farragut widens the road, the easement will have to be moved, as will the pipeline.

“Now my understanding is, after we came in and built a brand new line, Farragut’s going to build a new road, I think widening the road in that area.

“I don’t think the story’s over,” Littleton said.

“I think that L-C-U-B at some point needs to be restored their easement. If we bought a new easement now, we’re good with wherever a new easement needs to be located,” he added.

LCUB and the Longworths still face a January court date to determine who pays attorney and court fees and appraisal costs.

“We’re going to let the court decide on how we’re going to divvy up the attorney’s fees and other specials that are involved in this case,” Littleton said.

The agreed order, motioned and seconded by Beasley and Joel Garber, was passed with only Aikens dissenting.

In other business, the Board:

• Hired Chad Dotson as pre-treatment director

• Hired Jacob Williamson and Anthony Seals as mechanics

• Approved language changes to the Atmos Energy marketing contract to comply with FERC regulations