Arp Admits He Did It,
Possibly Violated Law

In the ongoing saga of developer/builder, Wes Cooper's, desire to side step Loudon County's Adequate Schools Facility Tax, Loudon County Mayor, Doyle Arp, admits that he was the one who directed his legal firm to advise Cooper that his property would be reassessed excluding what he claims is an unfinished basement. In the News Sentinel article by Hugh Willett below, Arp states that he decided to over rule the Loudon County Board Of Zoning Appeals because he (Arp) doesn't think the law is right. Problem is, Arp has absolutely no authority to overrule the BZA and in fact by his actions may have committed a felony in the process.

Below is the letter directed by Arp to be sent to Cooper's lawyer, Sam Doak.

The Adequate Schools Facility Tax is a state law that must be adopted by the local governing body before implementation. Loudon County adopted the law in 2006. The law clearly specifies the actions that anyone who objects to the tax must follow. Anyone who disagrees with the assessment by the building commissioner may in the case of Loudon County, appeal the building commissioner's assessment to the Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals. If the objecting party still disagrees with the building commissioner and the decision of the Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals, their only avenue of appeal is to court. Apparently Mr. Arp has decided he can over rule state law and supersede the process and make himself the judge. Arp's high priced legal firm, Kramer Rayson should have known better than to allow Arp to go down this road.

It is very likely that Arp has violate TCA 39-16-403 - Official Oppression, which is a Class E Felony. This law deals with a public servant acting under color of office or employment who directs any other official to violate the law.

Whether Doyle Arp likes a particular law or not is irrelevant and contrary to what he apparently thinks of himself, he is not the king of Loudon County even if he has got columns around his door. Arp has now crossed the point of no return. District Attorney, Russ Johnson, should initiate a full investigation.

Real estate agent gets tax exemption

Loudon Co. mayor overrules Board of Zoning Appeals
By Hugh G. Willett,

The decision to give a Tellico Village real estate agent an exemption from Loudon County's Adequate Facility Tax could set a precedent for other home buyers and developers.

Wes Cooper, sales manager for Cooper Realty, the sales arm of Tellico Village developer Cooper Properties, went before the Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals on June 17 to request exemption of the basement of his 6,000-square-foot Chickasaw Lane home from the AFT.

The exemption would save Cooper about $3,000 off the potential AFT levy of about $6,000.

Cooper challenged the definition of his basement as finished space, arguing that he currently had no plans to finish his basement. Because the basement is not heated or cooled, it should be considered unfinished space, Cooper said.

Cooper told the board that there is no air-handler allocated for the basement, no insulation between the floors, and that the duct system for the main floors was in the attic.

According to the minutes of the BZA meeting, Building Commissioner Bill Cox told the board that the AFT is not charged on unfinished space unless ductwork and vents for heating and cooling have been installed. Ductwork and vents had been installed in Cooper's basement, Cox told the board.

The BZA voted unanimously to deny Cooper's request.

According to Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp, Cooper subsequently threatened legal action to block collection of the disputed portion of the tax. Arp said he requested the law firm of Kramer Rayson provide an opinion on the legality of the application of the tax in Cooper's situation.

"They told us if we went to court, we would lose," Arp said.

Arp said that to avoid litigation costly to the county, he made the decision to have Kramer Rayson send a letter to Cooper saying the county would reassess his home excluding the disputed basement square footage.

The issue of whether or not this action could set a precedent for other home buyers or developers is overshadowed by the fact that the wording of the law does not allow taxation of unfinished space, Arp said.

"The point is they were taxing things out there that ought not to be taxed," he added.

Cox said he had heard about the decision to grant Cooper an exception but was given no official notification. The decision was not approved by his office or the BZA, he said.

Cox also said he had received no word from the mayor's office or any other source suggesting his office should change the standards by which finished space is assessed. Barring such a determination, he said his office would continue to adhere to the previous standards.

Loudon County passed the Adequate Facility Tax in 2006, levying a $1-per-square-foot tax on all finished space in new homes.

The state Legislature authorized the tax in 2005 for use in counties with rapid population growth. All the money from the tax is supposed to go to the county schools.