City answers suit filed over Mill St. easement

Photo by Thomas Wilson
Owners of this property that's home to Krystal and Pizza Hut restaurants have sued the City of Elizabethton.

By Thomas Wilson
Property owners who granted the City of Elizabethton an easement for the Mill Street Extension project have refiled a lawsuit challenging the city's use of the easement.
Filed in August by attorney Thomas Cowan in Carter County Circuit Court, the lawsuit names William Robert Glover, Kathleen Glover and Robert Wayne Glover as plaintiffs against the city. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified monetary judgment amount against the city for damages alleged to have occurred to the Glovers' property during the Mill Street project.
The Glover family owned a 3.704 acre tract of land on West Elk Ave., where Krystal and Pizza Hut restaurants sit as well as the Tennessee Department of Safety driver's license examination office. The city spent close to $1 million on the Mill Street project, which widened the street, formed curbs and storm drainage guttering and joined Mill Street with Cherokee Industrial Boulevard. The city exercised its right to eminent domain to secure right-of-way property along Mill Street including easement deeds with Elizabethton Herb and Metal and Tri-City Plating Co.
The plaintiffs had granted the city an easement in April 1999. The suit states the easement granted 240 feet on the plaintiffs' property. The lawsuit alleges the city's contracted construction firm appropriated the plaintiffs' land for 40-foot road right of way and adjacent sidewalks. The suit further alleges the street project development created steep banks behind the plaintiffs' commercial properties lowering their value and reducing the size of the lots. The project also destroyed the right of way from Holly Lane to the Glovers' property making the property less accessible and valuable, the complaint alleges.
In the defendant's response filed Tuesday, the city denies encroaching on the plaintiffs' property beyond the easement granted the city by the Glovers. The response further denies the road construction caused any hazardous conditions on the property or reduced the plaintiffs' property value or accessibility. The city also argues William Glover cannot be a party to the suit since Mr. Glover died on Dec. 6, 2002.
Attorney Charlton DeVault, representing the city, writes that the Glovers had no street access to the rear of the property prior to the Mill Street project. DeVault also writes in the response that while the plaintiffs could construct a driveway from the property to access Mill Street on their own, " ... the defendant is not required to construct driveways to improve plaintiffs' property when none existed prior to construction of the street."
The action was initially filed in July 2000. Cowan subsequently filed a voluntary non-suit in August 2002 resulting in the cases' dismissal. The city states in its answer the dismissal came following a motion by the city's attorneys to dismiss the suit for failing to comply with rules of evidence discovery.
The suit seeks a jury to try the case and assess a damage award against the city from the property taken for public use. The Glovers' suit also seeks interest on the damage award from October 1999 at 2 percent above the Federal Reserve's prime rate at that time.