Monday, October 26, 2015
Pipeline Opponent Makes Direct Appeal to Grand Jury
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Rebuffed by the district attorney general, a Greene County resident has made a direct appeal to the foreman of the Greene County Grand Jury to gather evidence about a transaction related to the US Nitrogen project.
In an Oct. 12 letter to Ron Metcalfe, the jury foreman, Donahue Bible asked for a meeting to discuss a land option agreement between a local official and US Nitrogen.
Bible made the direct appeal after District Attorney General Dan Armstrong concluded in a letter to Bible and his attorney that he saw nothing illegal in the option agreement between J. W. Douthat and US Nitrogen.
"I am requesting a meeting with you at your earliest convenience," Bible wrote in the letter to Metcalfe, citing a state law that gives private citizens the right to bring evidence directly to a county grand jury.
Bible noted that he has been a resident of Greene County for 50 years and his property abuts the Nolichucky River.
The US Nitrogen project includes a 12 mile double barrelled pipeline from the Nolichucky River to the newly constructed US Nitrogen manufacturing facility.
"We have not been able to convince Attorney General Armstrong to take our evidence to the grand jury," Bible continued.
Despite several meetings and discussions, Bible said all of his efforts have been unsuccessful.
Bible said he wants the panel to look into the Sept. 11, 2013 land option agreement between Douthat and US Nitrogen.
At the time Douthat was a member of the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County and the Old Knox Utility District, both of which played major roles in the project.
Though he abstained from an earlier vote on the US Nitrogen project, Douthat cast a favorable vote at a July 18 IDB meeting on a motion to resubmit an application to the state for approval of the pipeline project. The motion was approved.
The pipeline made it possible for US Nitrogen to bypass the Old Knox Utility District for the purchase of millions of gallons of water per week.
Two Douthat properties were eventually sold to US Nitrogen.
A 13.67 acre property was sold to US Nitrogen for $148,740 on Oct. 9 of last year. Douthat Properties, LLC sold a second larger tract to US Nitrogen for $851,251.38 on Oct. 24.
US Nitrogen subsequently sold that second parcel for $550,000, a nearly $300,000 loss or 35 percent loss.