Freeman Taylor: 'My patience has run out'

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com

   Freeman Taylor owns two businesses in Carter County, one in Johnson County, and six in Washington County where he first started out.
   "With all of the business that I've ever done in Washington County and Johnson County, I have never, never had any problems with the county, the city, the state or anybody else. Carter County has given me more problems trying to locate a business than any other county that I've ever been in," he said Friday.
   Taylor believes his zoning problems with the Unaka Service Station at the intersection of Highway 91 and Green Valley Lane began because one of his neighbors was interested in the same piece of property at the time he purchased it.
   "He's resented me ever since. He's fought me in every way to put anything on the property. He wants to own the property, which I don't think he ever will."
   Taylor believes he has bent over backward to try to accommodate the county and his neighbors. "We have met all of the restrictions of the county on that property. They wanted trees set out on Green Valley Lane. We set the trees out." Now, one of the neighbors is "complaining that the trees are too close to the road and he can't get out of his driveway."
   Taylor said he also paid half of approximately $1,600 to have a privacy fence erected along one of the boundary lines. "We've done everything that we know to do to satisfy those people. It looks like it's headed to court. And when we go to court, I'm going to prove that spot zoning in Carter County is illegal.
   "They can't come along here and take people from Roan Mountain and put them on the zoning board and tell me what I can build on Stoney Creek. They're not even under zoning up there in Roan Mountain."
   Taylor said that between him and his son, Phillip, they have invested approximately $50,000 on the business. "The taxpayers of Carter County and the county will benefit from it," as opposed to a tire business that comes with a Wal-Mart SuperCenter. "And they're saying no," he said.
   "It's zoned B-1. You can have a service station but it has to have gas. You can have a barber shop, a beauty shop -- several different things. You can put a convenience store there."
   Taylor said he already has a convenience store. "You know those boom boxes? These kids pull in there of the morning about 6:30 or 7 o'clock -- boom, boom, boom -- they vibrate the windows in my store down there. Now if that's what them people want, that's what I'll put there. But I've got to put something on my property. I'm paying taxes on that property and the county gave me a permit and a license for a service station. What can I do?
   "If we have to go to court to prove that zoning is illegal, I'll put whatever I want on it," he said. "We're getting in the neighborhood of $50,000 in that property that we aren't going to be able to do anything with unless the zoning people see the light."
   Taylor said County Attorney George Dugger is trying to work something out between the planning commission and county commission. "I went down today [Friday] and signed a thing where they're going to try to put a tire store in B-1. But if not, then the whole thing is ready for court. I've got my money tied up down there. Those people down there: I've done everything I can for them. My patience has run out. I'm ready to fight them."
   Taylor said he has worked hard all his life to be a fair man. "Now, I don't have a whole lot, but I've got a little. And I'll spend every penny that I have to spend to take Carter County to court to prove that spot zoning in Carter County is illegal; and then I will sue the county back for my money.
   "But I'm going to prove that those people can't come along and tell you one section of the county can do this and another section of the county can do that. That's a bunch of crap! We all fought for freedom. That's what I'm fighting for right now -- freedom."