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.


Home Sales Increase In April In Chattanooga

Home sales increased in April in Chattanooga, according to a report from the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.   The report said, "As we turn the page to the second quarter of 2015, a proliferation of new  listings is expected in most markets across the U.S. Spring is traditionally the  commonplace time of the year that we see some of the most desirable ... (click for more)

Georgia Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty To Bid Rigging And Fraud Conspiracies At Public Foreclosure Auctions

A Georgia real estate investor pleaded guilty on Tuesday for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia, the Department of Justice announced. Felony charges against Eric Hulsman were filed on March 27, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta. According to court documents, from ... (click for more)

Unexpected Amount East Ridge Owes On Fire Hall Property Rises To $603,000; City To Apply For Reimbursement

The unexpected amount the city of East Ridge will owe the state on the fire hall property in connection with the Bass Pro development has risen to $603,000. Earlier, East Ridge officials said the payment would be $428,000. City Manager Andrew Hyatt said Monday, "The Tennessee Department of Transportation notified the city of East Ridge that an appraisal of the city’s former ... (click for more)

Fire Breaks Out At House Off Highway 58

A fire broke out on Memorial Day afternoon at a house off Highway 58. A 911 call was made at 12:10 p.m. reporting a house fire at 6019 Hillcrest Dr. The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded and found fire showing on an addition to the house. Firefighters worked quickly entering the addition to extinguish the fire from spreading to the main level of the house. ... (click for more)

A Memorial Day Reflection

I wish I could find that combination of words that would capture an inclusive meaning of Memorial Day.  I have attended many Memorial Day programs at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, so many that now they have merged into one memory.  But what stands out is that each year there are more friends and veterans to visit.  Some gave their all many years ago.  And ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two More Kick Out UAW

Woody Hayes, the great Ohio State football coach, used to teach his players to “paralyze resistance with persistence” but, my word, the likable theory has taken quite a beating in the past two years at the NTN-Bower ball-bearing plant in Hamilton, Ala. The workers there voted to decertify from the United Auto Workers union two years ago but getting the UAW out the door has turned ... (click for more)