By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A chancery court judge has given his approval to an agreement sought by 47 Greene County landowners to set limits on what property contractors for a controversial pipeline for US Nitrogen can occupy.
The three-page order was approved by Judge Douglas T. Jenkins, but the dispute over the pipeline and property rights of adjacent landowners is far from over.
The order states that contractors on the project "will not trespass or otherwise enter upon, utilize or damage plaintiff's' land" without prior consent.
The order was agreed to by D. Scott Hurley, the lawyer for the property owners, and lawyers for US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County.
But that agreement only resolves one of many issues raised in the still pending lawsuit. Further hearings are expected on challenges to the legality of the agreement between the IDB and US Nitrogen.
In addition, one of the plaintiff's, Don Bible, is charging that the rights-of-way claimed by US Nitrogen under a state permit actually is infringing on his and other residents' property.
Bible cited a legal opinion from attorney Kelley Hinsley which concluded from land records that the right-of-way along the pipeline route was only 30 feet, not the 40 feet claimed.
Bible contends that as a result he and other property owners are having miles of their land taken over improperly.
US Nitrogen officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to the suit before Jenkins, several other lawsuits have been filed challenging the project including one in chancery court in Nashville. A hearing in that case has been sent for Oct. 24.