State Supreme Court Permits Continued Development Of Franklin County Subdivision

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday upheld a decision of the Chancery Court for Franklin County to permit the continued development of Cooley’s Rift, a 1,400-acre residential development near Monteagle, despite objections from some original homeowners to changes in the development plan.

In 2005, after the president of the original developer of Cooley’s Rift died, New Life Development Corp. purchased the real property and the rights to develop Cooley’s Rift.  Several existing property owners objected to New Life Development’s revised plans for the property and filed suit in the Chancery Court for Franklin County.  The trial court dismissed property owners’ suit, but in 2009, the Court of Appeals instructed the trial court to decide whether the revised plans were contrary to implied restrictions in the subdivision plat or the development documents.

After the case was returned to the trial court, most of the homeowners in Cooley’s Rift approved changes in the restrictive covenants and the charter of the homeowners’ association that resolved the issues raised by the Court of Appeals.  However, the dissatisfied property owners filed a second suit challenging the validity of these changes.  The trial court again upheld the actions of New Life Development and the majority of the property owners.  The property owners who objected to New Life Development’s plans again appealed to the Court of Appeals. 

In 2011, the Court of Appeals decided that New Life Development and the homeowners’ association had followed the correct procedures to amend the restrictive covenants and the charter of the homeowners’ association.  However, the court also decided that the trial court should conduct another hearing to determine whether these amendments were reasonable.  In addition, the court ordered the trial court to determine whether any information on the development’s recorded plats provided a basis for imposing restrictions on the development.  New Life Development appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

In a unanimous opinion, the court ruled that the homeowners’ association had validly adopted the amendments.  In addition, the court decided that Tennessee law did not require the courts to inquire into the reasonableness of the amendments to the restrictive covenants approved by a super-majority of the property owners.  Instead, the court held that the amendments should be evaluated under an arbitrary and capricious standard and that the Cooley’ s Rift amendments were neither arbitrary nor capricious.  Lastly, the court decided that the recorded plat did not provide a basis for implied restrictions on development. 

To read the R. Douglas Hughes v. New Life Development Corp. opinion, authored by Justice William C. Koch, Jr., visit TNCourts.gov.


Realtors See Some Positives In June Sales Figures

Officials of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors said they see some positives in June sales figures. Officials said, "Upon first review of our June residential market statistics, housing seemed to have had a slow start in the spring selling season. But don’t let appearances deceive. As you dig into that spring soil, you begin to unearth differences in individual areas and ... (click for more)

Commissioners Chide Augusta Developer For Not Talking With Lincoln Park Residents

Some Planning Commission members on Monday chided an Augusta, Ga., developer for not talking with Lincoln Park residents about a proposal to construct 387 multi-family residential units on a 17.7-acre former manufacturing site on Riverside Drive. The location is across from the Boathouse Restaurant. However, Commissioner Don Moon said he might have done the same thing. He said ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oscar Brock’s True Passion

I don’t pay much attention to the Hamilton County School Board. Once the moon and the stars aligned behind Superintendent Rick Smith, you hear very little, if anything, from the nine-member council that oversees an annual budget of almost $400 million and employs 4,480 people. So chew this for a minute: approximately 2,000 of those people are not teachers. Yes, there are 78 principals ... (click for more)