Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Open Government Lawyer to Appear at US Nitrogen Hearing

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

By agreement of all parties, an attorney for a coalition favoring open government will be allowed to address the court tomorrow at a hearing on a suit aimed at blocking a proposed 12-mile pipeline from the Nolichucky River to a new industrial facility.
The agreement to allow Rick Hollow, the lawyer for the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government to appear was announced on the eve of the hearing in the suit against US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County.
The coalition had requested approval to present arguments on whether citizens attending a meeting of a public body have a right not only to attend meetings but also to hear the discussions of board members.
The issue arose in the suit brought by a group of area residents who have challenged the legality of the development board's July vote to approve the pipeline plan. The challenge is based in part on the fact that residents attending the meeting were not able to hear the deliberations preceding the favorable vote.
Lawyers for the board and US Nitrogen have argued in court papers that the state Open Meeting Law does not mandate that citizens be able to hear the deliberations.
Also at Thursday's hearing Scott Hurley, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, will present arguments to Chancellor Douglas Jenkins in favor of the issuance of a temporary injunction to halt the ongoing construction of the pipeline. Both the pipeline and the $200 million US Nitrogen ammonia nitrate manufacturing facility are slated for completion this spring.
Lawyers for the board and US Nitrogen will be arguing for their motion to have the suit dismissed.
The hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Greene County courthouse.

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