By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Cumberland County commissioners reconvened their monthly meeting, after recessing for a closed session with the county attorney, and authorized the county attorney and county mayor to take action to acquire property on Renegade Mountain in order to place antennas for the county's emergency communications system.
The county commission met in a closed session during a recess of Monday night's meeting and immediately reconvened after the session. The session was to obtain legal advice from Cumberland County Attorney Randal Boston.
After reconvening, Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, moved to suspend the rules of the county commission to allow another item for discussion and action regarding emergency antennas on Renegade Mountain.
It was supported by Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner, and unanimously approved.
Sabine then moved to authorize Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. and county attorney Boston to take the necessary action to acquire property, or condemn property, for an easement on the water tower on Renegade Mountain for the purpose of locating county emergency communications antennas.
The motion was supported by Johnny Presley, 3rd District commissioner, and unanimously approved.
The water tower is currently owned by the Laurel Hills Condominium Property Owners Association and is part of the water system on top of Renegade Mountain.
The Laurel Hills Condominium Property Owners Association is in the midst of a legal battle between them, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) and Renegade Mountain Community Club.
In fact, the TRA recently ordered Laurel Hills Condominium Property Owners Association to sell the water system because it ruled the Laurel Hills POA is not capable of operating the system.
They were ordered to conduct the sale by June 7, 2013, but were unable to sell and have been allowed an additional 60 days.
The legal battle has been ongoing for more than a year after the Laurel Hills Condominium Property Owners Association, the operator of the water system on Renegade Mountain, had turned off water service to more than 80 residences on Renegade Mountain over a water fee dispute when Laurel Hills attempted to raise the water rate from $25 per month to more than $86 per month per residence.
Michael McClung and Phillip Guettler, directors and officers of Moy Toy, LLC, own Renegade Mountain and are also the directors for the Laurel Hills Condominiums Property Owners Association's water system.
Everett Bolin Jr., general manager of Crab Orchard Utility District, said he didn't think the utility district would pursue purchasing the water system.
"It's more of a liability than an asset and I couldn't in good faith spend our customer's money paying for that system," Bolin said.
He said the utility district would of course continue to supply water to Renegade Mountain, but they would not pursue a purchase.
Laurel Hills Condominiums Property Owners Association currently operates the water system by distributing already treated water from Crab Orchard Utility District to 135 customers.
Cumberland County previously had its emergency communications antennas located on top of the water tower on Renegade Mountain but moved them after the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) ordered prior owners either repair or dismantle the water tank.
The water tank was going to be painted and the county moved its antennas to a radio tower on top of Renegade.
The county attorney, nor commissioners elaborated as to what action would be taken to gain the easement on the water tower.
One option would be to condemn the property and acquire the easement through eminent domain.
Laurel Hills POA was granted another 60 days for the sale of the water system and is also requested to provide information as to what action they have taken toward selling the water system.