The Tullahoma Municipal/Regional Planning Commission will not recommend the city surplus property located at the corner of South Jefferson and West Monroe streets, despite a request from one homeowner to do so.
At its Monday, Dec. 17 meeting, the commission voted unanimously not to recommend a request to surplus a 2,500-square-foot piece of city-owned property in order to accommodate a mobile home that is partially located on that property.
According to a staff report from the planning and codes department, the property owner, Jewell Noon, placed his home partially on the city property because it could not fit entirely on his own lot, due to a large drainage ditch located on his property.
Because Noon’s home was illegally placed on the city’s right of way, the matter went to court, and Noon was ordered to either move his home or purchase the land in the right of way from the city, according to Tullahoma City Attorney Steve Worsham, who spoke on the matter at the meeting.
However, according to Worsham, designating the property as surplus would not guarantee that Noon would become the owner of the land.
When the city sells surplus property, anyone interested can put in bids for the land, meaning Noon isn’t guaranteed ownership of the requested property.
“Adjoining property owners can bid on that property, as well as members of the public in general, so it’s not a final conclusion that Mr. Noon is going to actually become the owner of this property,” Worsham said.
Should someone out-bid Noon for the property, Noon would still be required to move his mobile home.
“Whomever buys this property [if not Noon], would then have the problem of a trailer existing thereon,” Worsham said.
When deliberating on the matter, the commission took into account several unfavorable recommendations from different city departments, including police, fire and public works.
The public works department cited the existing drainage ditch and potential drainage work as its reason the property should not be surplussed, while the police and fire departments referenced ongoing legal disputes.
Another matter set against Noon’s request is the matter of a civil dispute that has been ongoing for the last several years.
According to Worsham, Noon has been in the midst of a legal battle with the owner of abutting property to the east, and having the right of way property surplussed would not help mitigate those issues.
According to Worsham, Noon’s mobile home is also partially located on his neighbor’s property in addition to the city’s right of way.
Having the 2,500-square-foot property go to surplus would not settle Noon’s civil litigation, Worsham said.
“There’s still going to be encroachment on the other property owner’s property,” he said, “so we can’t resolve that. We don’t have the authority or the power to resolve the conflict between the two property owners.”
City Administrator Jennifer Moody echoed up Worsham’s point, saying that even if they city were to surplus the right of way, Noon would still be required to move his mobile home.
Moody speculated that Noon was seeking the surplus property in order to avoid having to move his mobile home, though owning the right of-way property would not entirely solve the civil matter between neighbors.
“I think, in his mind, if he surpluses the land he doesn’t have to move the trailer,” she said.
Should the city surplus the property, Noon may be under the impression that he would not be required to move his trailer, she said; however, because his home is still located partially on someone else’s property, he would still be required to move it.
“Either way, he has to move the trailer,” Planning Commission Chairman Larry Crabtree said. “Even if we surplus [this property] and he buys it, he’s still going to have to move his trailer.”
Following the public hearing portion, the planning commission voted unanimously to send an unfavorable recommendation to the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen regarding the surplus request.
The matter will next be heard by the city board. There will be another public hearing on the matter, during which time any interested party may speak on the issue.
Once all public comments have been heard, the board will take the final vote on the subject and either approve or deny Noon’s request.
Although nothing is final as of yet, the city board typically does not go against the planning commission’s recommendation in matters such as this.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.