Saturday, January 16, 2016
New Complaint Filed in TDOT Pipeline Suit
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A new complaint has been filed in a suit in which residents from three area counties are seeking to nullify the state permit used to build a 12-mile double pipeline from Midway to the Nolichucky River.
The amended complaint filed in Chancery Court in Nashville asks the Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman to block US Nitrogen from ever utilizing the pipeline by declaring the July 2014 permit invalid.
US Nitrogen is set to begin manufacturing ammonium nitrate in its new $200 million facility in the near future and the pipeline will be used to draw up to two million gallons of water per day from the river.
The amended complaint, the second to be filed in the suit, charges that Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer exceeded his legal authority when he approved the permit in mid-2014.
Plaintiffs in the suit are residents of Greene, Cocke and Jefferson counties whose properties are located along the Nolichucky.
Plaintiffs are Ann Calfee, Don Bible, Jack Renner, Jeremiah Cluesman, Ruth Dolin and Rueben Stone.
The suit charges that the properties of all six will be adversely affected by the pipeline.
"The loss of 1-2 million gallons of water immediately upstream will dry the riverbed at the Calfee property for the first time in the known history of the area. The loss will be unprecedented," the complaint states.
In Bible's case, the suit recounts his efforts to halt the pipeline construction when he said it began to encroach on his 40 acre property. His protests were ignored.
"On or about March 18, 2015, contractors for US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board (of Greeneville and Greene County) and representatives of TDOT came onto the Bible property... and laid the dual pipelines across the Bible property with armed security guards," the suit states.
According to the complaint the state did not have the authority to grant a permit along the highway right of way to a private company because the law limits such permits to utilities.
"Accordingly, the permit is void ab initio," the suit states.
In prior filings US Nitrogen and the IDB have denied they encroached on any of the properties. Lawyers for TDOT also have argued that the state does have the right to grant such permits.
"The installation of the pipelines will result in permanent injury and encroachment upon the Renner and Bible properties and will create over time a permanent nuisance to the other downstream petitioners," the landowners suit concludes.
The petition asks the court to issue an injunction permanently enjoining the use of the permit.
Lawyers for TDOT, US Nitrogen and the IDB are expected to respond with a motion to have the suit dismissed.
IN THE CHANCERY COURT FOR DAVIDSON COUNTY,
ANN CALFEE, DON BIBLE, )
JACK RENNER, JEREMIAH CLUESMAN )
RUTH DOLIN, & RUEBEN STONE ) Case. No. 15-402 I
TENNESSEE DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION)