More On 321 Land Sale

School board members consider selling property
Mary E. Hinds News Herald

A piece of land purchased by the Loudon County School Board in 2006 amid controversy may be put up for sale. At a recent school board workshop, board member Van Shaver said he had been asked "many, many" times if the land would be sold. He said the latest version of the school building program does not include using the land for a new school anytime in the foreseeable future. "Nothing says we're headed that way," Shaver told the board. 

The controversial piece of property, located on Highway 321 in Lenoir City, was purchased by the Loudon County School Board in 2006 after much in-fighting on the board about the land's location and price.

The 80-acre property was purchased by the board for $2.3 million. Board members at that time came under fire when it was learned developer Richard Eisenbach paid $1.3 million for 103 acres just one day before selling 80 acres of the parcel to the school board, realizing a $1-million profit in one day. Some also questioned why Eisenbach made such a large profit and retained 20 acres of prime road frontage. 

Two years later the school board authorized Loudon County District Attorney Russell Johnson to ask the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the transaction. Johnson found there was nothing illegal about the sale and said the high price of the property was due to the real estate boom taking place when the land was bought in 2006. 

At the workshop Shaver said the land would be difficult to level for building and cold be problematic for installing sewer lines. He said the property should be priced at $2.5 million.

Director of Loudon County Schools Wayne Honeycutt said there are two options for the sell of the property - one would be to turn the property over to the county as surplus property or to put the property up for sealed bids with a reserve price. 

Board member Gary Ubben expressed doubts about selling land now given the current real estate market.  "It's not the right time," he told the board. He suggested since the board's long range building plan calls for a new middle school in the future on Highway 11 or Highway 70 "a trade might be an option." Since the land on Highway 321 is zoned commercial, he said once the economy strengthens it should bring in a better price.