The Cumberland County Commission unanimously approved an agreement with the Fairfield Glade Community Club to ensure the county is not billed for dues to the homeowners association on property the county takes ownership of when property taxes go unpaid.
“It’s one of those things where everybody wins,” Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster told the commissioner Monday night.
The agreement gives the community club an option to take over ownership of selected lots, which it could then sell, with the county forgiving the delinquent taxes. In return, the club agrees not to charge dues that range from $546 to $840 per lot per year.
Foster has said he has been working with the community club on the agreement since 2019.
The county has about 1,000 parcels of property in Fairfield Glade, transferred to the county because the owners did not pay their property taxes.
Though court precedents have allowed homeowners associations to charge membership assessments from counties, Fairfield Glade has not charged these fees in the past.
The Fairfield Glade Community Club Board of Directors approved the agreement March 25.
While most resident comments on the matter were positive, there were some concerns raised by members.
Resident Nico CerGeo suggested the club bill the county almost $1.4 million for property owners association fees.
“We do not exist to subsidize Cumberland County taxpayers for services and amenities they want,” he said.
He and another resident, Tom Ratcliffe, said Fairfield Glade residents did not use county services such as fire protection, law enforcement or road upkeep.
The agreement also will remain in effect until 2030 and then automatically renew for 10-year periods, something some residents felt would tie the hands of future residents.
Fairfield Glade members of the board told residents the community does receive county services and that their membership assessments allow the club to provide services above and beyond those received by county residents.
Forcing dues assessments would also entitle the county to voting rights in club matters, with a bloc of approximately 1,300 votes.
When property taxes go unpaid for two years, the bill is turned over to the Clerk and Master’s office. That office holds periodic public auctions to sell property to new owners and return the property to the tax rolls.
When properties go unsold at that auction, they are turned over to the county, which can then sell the properties individually or in groups.
The county mayor’s office maintains a list of available properties.
The delinquent tax committee met prior to the commission meeting Monday afternoon and approved multiple purchases and held an auction for two contested properties.
Bluegrass Holdings submitted a bid of $100 for each of the following parcels, and must pay $125 in attorney fees and a lump sum of $87 for advertising:
•43 Pineridge Ct.
•110 Pineridge Loop
•14 Pineridge Ct.
•209 Sheffield Dr.
•207 Sheffield Dr.
•141 Sheffield Dr.
•140 Sheffield Dr.
•148 Sheffield Dr.
•152 Sheffield Dr.
•148 Overlook Cove
•650 Lakeview Dr.
•51 Cheshire Terrace
•55 Medowood Circle
•121 Hedgewood Pt.
•130 Hedgewood Pt.
•110 Hedwood Ln.
•1053 Redwing Dr.
•1115 Chief Day Break Dr.
Future State Trust purchased the following properties for $100 each plus attorney costs and advertising fees:
•110 Norcross Rd.
•114 Greenbrier Loop
•127 Greenbrier Loop
Future State Trust also contested offers made by Bluegrass Holdings on two properties, increasing their bid to $110 per parcel on
•110 Wickham Lane
•134 Shelley Lane
A representative of Future State Trust was not present for the meeting, but a representative of Bluegrass Holdings was present and increased their bid to $121 per parcel, plus the difference in attorney costs for the land purchase.
The committee accepted the bids and the Cumberland County Commission approved the sales during their meeting that evening.
Property purchased through a delinquent tax sale is subject to a one-year right of redemption, allowing the original property owner to reclaim the property.
The delinquent tax committee also heard from tax attorney Joe Looney on a small parcel of property on Thurman Ave. that was the center of controversy the month before.
The small piece of property forms a triangle at Thurman and E. Fifth St. A potential buyer last month thought the property included up to the building of Forte’s, submitting a bid of $686. Local businessman Ronnie Webb placed a counter bid of $755.
However, property maps show that much of that property remains in the railroad right of way where tracks once ran through town to the historic Crossville Depot.
Looney had asked the committee to table action on the property to allow him time to research the assessment, thinking it might be double assessed.
“The property has very little value, but the assessment is good,” Looney told the committee.
It has once belonged to Ridley Mitchell. In the early 1960s, much of his estate was sold off in parcels.
“This is one of them,” he said.
The original bidder withdrew his bid, leaving Webb as the only bidder. Webb also owns the property were Forte’s is located and the parcel across Thurman Ave.
In other action, the county beer board approved a beer permit for Creekside Brewing, 11750 Hwy. 127 S., during the meeting preceding the county commission.