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.


Real Estate Transfers For April 9-15

NOTICE: The Hamilton County Register’s Office did not publish this data. All information in the Register’s Office is public information as set out in T.C.A. 10-7-503. For questions regarding this report, please call Chattanoogan.com at 423 266-2325. GI numbers, listed when street addresses are not available, refer to the location of transactions (book number and page number) ... (click for more)

Study Says Lack of Affordable Housing Growing, Housing Burden Felt Disproportionately By African-American Community

Chattanooga Organized for Action released to the public today an updated study presented to the City Council on the status of the growing affordable housing crisis. The study, which looked at area figures for the city’s urban core, found that one out of every two households are considered “housing burdened” by Federal Government (HUD) standards, meaning they are paying more than ... (click for more)

School Board Member Welch Defends County Administrative Pay; Says Commissioner Boyd "Acted Recklessly And With A Personal Agenda"

County School Board member Jonathan Welch has defended county school administrative pay that was questioned by County Commissioner Tim Boyd, saying that without federal dollars it is 1.7 percent. He also questioned county administrative expenses, saying Commissioner Boyd "should get his house in order" before "throwing stones" at the county schools. The board member said ... (click for more)

Detective Following Murder Suspects Who Came Out Firing: "I'm In A Bad Spot"

Chattanooga Police Detective Lucas Fuller on Tuesday told in court how he wound up behind two murder suspects in the victim's truck in a gang-plagued part of town. He told how they came out gunning toward his unmarked vehicle. He said, "My radio's down and there are least two shooters. I'm in a bad spot." Detective Fuller said the pair fired at least 14 shots, but none hit ... (click for more)

Time-Out On Housing PILOTs

Kudos to the City Council and County Commission for beginning thoughtful discussions about housing PILOTs. A growing number of citizens from across the political spectrum hope you continue your good work by calling a time-out on housing PILOTs until you adopt policies and procedures about how these tax breaks are evaluated, monitored and enforced.   I suggest an immediate ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why The British Attacked

This was a pretty big week exactly 240 years ago and what happened then is really important now. The British Army, after arriving in increasing numbers seven years before, decided to launch a sneak attack on Concord, Mass., and several other towns in mid-April of 1775. Their purpose was simple: take away every gun you can find. Confiscate every weapon of any kind. It was believed ... (click for more)