Wednesday, September 9, 2015

IDB Votes to Accept US Nitrogen Settlement

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

With only one dissenting vote the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County has voted to accept the proposed settlement of a lawsuit challenging the legality of a key element of the US Nitrogen project.
The panel gave its expected approval after opponents of the project, including Park Overall, expressed their strong disapproval.
Charging that the IDB action violated its bond agreements, Overall said the agreement would not benefit Greene County or its citizens.
"This is not legal representation, this is corruption" she said in a prepared statement.
Casting the lone opposing vote was Greene County Mayor David Crum. Jerry Fortner, whose firm was a major contractor for the project abstained.
Among those voting in favor was J.W. Douthat, whose company sold extensive property to US Nitrogen.
US Nitrogen paid nearly $1 million for 2 Douthat properties. It later sold one of them, a 78.7 acre tract, to a third party for $550,000 a loss of about 35 percent.
Under the settlement the Old Knox Utility District will drop its objections to the free use of Nolichucky River water by US Nitrogen. Old Knox also will allow two other companies, Yara North America and Praxair, to use water from the Nolichucky. The specific language of the agreement would allow the substitution of another company for Praxair.
The suit filed for the utility district had challenged the legality of an arrangement allowing the companies to bypass the utility, thus avoiding the need to purchase water from the district.
The 11-page settlement agreement already has been approved by the utility district and US Nitrogen officials have announced their approval.
Any other companies seeking to use the pipeline would be required to give the utility district a 60-day right of first refusal to provide any needed services.
Also included in the settlement is a one time payment of $50,000 by US Nitrogen to the district, but half of that total would be set aside for services or improvements benefiting US Nitrogen or the other two companies.
US Nitrogen also has agreed to pay the district a minimum of $10,000 a month for potable water purchased from the district.
The settlement awaits only the approval of a judge to be finalized. The Old Knox Utility District already voted for its approval and US Nitrogen has also given its assent.

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