Tellico Village ordered to turn over documents related to community

By Hugh Willett
A Loudon County judge has ordered the Tellico Village Property Owners Association to turn over records related to the operation of the community to two residents who filed an open records suit in July 2009.

Chancellor Frank Williams of the 9th Judicial District ordered the POA to comply with requests for documents that were made almost one year ago by Tellico Village residents Richard T. Anklin and Dan Hutcherson.

The two claimed that they were denied access to documents that should be available under the state's open records laws.

According to the order, "The defendant shall allow the plaintiffs to go to the corporate offices of the Tellico Village Property Owners Association at a mutually agreeable time and under the supervision of the defendant to view and inspect all documents within the physical possession or under the control of the defendant."

Hutcherson said he was happy to finally get a judge's order to see the documents, which include, records of expenditures and minutes of meetings held in executive session.

"I bent over backwards to try and work with them," he said. "They've been giving us the run around for a year."

Hutcherson, a retired federal forensic records investigator, said that Tennessee state law guarantees access to records held by nonprofit organizations as long as the requests are made in good faith by members of the nonprofit.

As a homeowner and POA member Hutcherson said he was entitled to examine the records and should not have had to file suit.

"I was open to arbitration to discuss the access to the records but the POA refused to even discuss the issue," he said.

A statement provided by the POA welcomed the judge's decision as fair and equitable. The statement also explained that the POA position on access to the records has been consistent and in compliance with the law.

"The court's order should ensure that in future the POA will not again be brought to a standstill by constant and massive document requests," said public relations manager Stan Gibert.

According to Hutcherson, the requested documents could have been provided with little time or effort on the part of the POA.