By Walter F. Roche Jr.
US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County are asking a judge to throw out a suit filed by 47 local residents who oppose the construction of a 12 mile pipeline to draw millions of gallons of water per day from the Nolichucky River.
In a series of filings in the suit, attorneys for the board and USN contend that state law will not be violated if, as planned, the IDB owns the pipeline that will serve the manufacturing firm, which is constructing a $200 million facility to produce ammonium nitrate.
The filing was first reported by the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.
The filing states that mere ownership of the pipeline does not mean that the IDB will own and operate a business because the actual operation of the pipeline will be done by USN.
"US Nitrogen is serving as the contractor to construct the pipeline and will operate and maintain them at no cost to Greene County," the brief states.
The filing comes in a suit filed by the residents challenging the legality of the July 18 IDB action. The suit also charges that the IDB violated state open meeting statutes because some of those in attendance could not hear the discussion leading to the approval vote.
In their response, the IDB and USN contend that there is no requirement that audience members be able to hear the proceedings.
"Plaintiffs attach a requirement to the statute that does not exist," the motion states.
The filing contends that the board met all state law requirements by meeting and voting in public with required prior notice.
"The vote was held before the public's watchful eye," the brief states.
Other charges disputed by the IDB include a claim that the rights of residents along the river were being violated and that the construction will violate state laws against public nuisances.
The suit, which is due for a hearing early next month, is but one of several pending legal challenges to the project.