By Walter F. Roche Jr.
US Nitrogen, which has purchased hundreds of acres of Greene County property, has sold, at a substantial loss, a 78.7 acre parcel it purchased from a local official's company just five months ago.
State and county land records show US Nitrogen sold the property along Fish Hatchery Road to Chandley Farms, LLC for $550,000 on March 24. The company had purchased the property from Douthat Properties, LLC for $851,251.38 on Oct. 24 of last year.
The property is valued at $495,400, according to Greene County assessment records.The recent sales price is 35 percent below the amount US Nitrogen paid for the same property late last year.
Signing the October deed for Douthat Properties was J.W. Douthat, who has served on the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County and the Old Knox Utility District.
Douthat records show cast a favorable vote for the US Nitrogen project while serving on the IDB last July. He had recused himself during an earlier vote by the same body.
Officials of US Nitrogen did not respond to questions about why the company would purchase land it apparently didn't need and then sell it so quickly at a loss.
The 78.7 acre parcel was one of two land deals between Douthat and US Nitrogen, which is completing construction of a more than $200 million ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility in the county.
Douthat Properties sold a 13.67 acre property to US Nitrogen for $148,740 on Oct. 9 of last year.
US Nitrogen also purchased property from J & J Warehousing, a firm headed by Jerry Fortner. The 3.58 acre parcel was sold Dec. 11 for $75,000.
Fortner, also an IDB member, heads C & C Millwright, the leader
contractor on the US Nitrogen construction project. Fortner did abstain
from voting on US Nitrogen issues before the IDB.
While US Nitrogen has sold some of the parcels it purchased to the IDB for a nominal sum, the sale to Chandley Farms is the first to a private entity.
Records show US Nitrogen also recently purchased two additional county parcels for $11,250 each. The sellers were Martha Jennings and members of the Gregg family.
US Nitrogen is facing several lawsuits seeking to block some or all of its development proposal but thus far courts in Greene and Davidson County have looked unfavorably on those challenges.
In a recent decision Greene County Chancery Judge Douglas T. Jenkins concluded that the Greene County Regional Planning Commission and the Greene County Commission did not exceed their legal authority in approving aspects of the US Nitrogen project. He also dismissed claims against the Greene County Partnership.