THE HUNTER REPORT
How hard did he try to win?
By: Pat Hunter
August 5, 2009
“I said from day one that we were going to lose…” but how did he know. Did Mayor Doyle Arp peer into his crystal ball to see into the future or what did he know about his attorneys that we didn't know?
The Mayor was full of news at Monday's Aug. 3rd Commission meeting. Hot off the press, he passed out a partial transcript of Memorandum of Opinion on the lawsuit between John Wesley Cooper v Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals and Loudon County. The hearing was held the same day as Commission’s meeting and Mayor Arp announced the outcome of the lawsuit.
John Wesley Cooper, Tellico Village resident, filed a lawsuit in Loudon County Chancery Court to challenge the decision of the Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals when he requested an exemption to his Adequate Facilities Tax (AFT) assessment and the BZA denied his request.
According to the Mayor, the total cost for the lawsuit is estimated to be about $35,000 to $40,000 but the cost could go higher if Cooper wants to be reimbursed for his attorney's legal fees since the County lost.
The Mayor handed out a partial transcript of proceedings, Memorandum of Opinion. He said something about how we need to do unto others that we would have them do unto us and not change the rules once someone gets started on something. He was referring to the AFT state codes and actions of county building officials and BZA.
On September 8, 2008, the status of two lawsuits, TRDA v Loudon County and Wes Cooper v BZA and Loudon County, was discussed by attorney Wayne Henry and Commission. After returning from an Executive Session, Commissioner Bob Franke made a motion requesting that the Mayor recommend hiring another set of attorneys to handle the TRDA lawsuit. Some on Commission thought that another law firm could defend and possibly win the TRDA lawsuit.
Mayor Arp called rank and reminded Commission that Tennessee Code § 5-6-112 gave the authority to the County Mayor and not Commission to hire legal counsel. The vote ended in a stalemate with Commissioners Franke, Miller, Shaver, Maples and Marcus wanting to hire another set of attorneys while Commissioners Gardin, Park, Duff, Bledsoe and Meers stood steadfast with the Mayor.
The Mayor chose to stay with the same attorney to defend the County. Subsequently, Loudon County lost the TRDA lawsuit. Some have questioned whether the Mayor should even be involved in the lawsuit since he was part of the TRDA Board of Directors but he hired the attorney, nonetheless. It appears that the Mayor then turned around and hired the same attorney to defend the lawsuit on the Wes Cooper lawsuit!
How hard did the Mayor try to win this lawsuit? It seems that the Mayor can hire aggressive legal representation to win lawsuits against the little people but it’s a horse of a different color when it comes to fighting Mr. Big or Special Interest!
John Wesley Cooper v Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals and Loudon County Partial transcript of Memorandum of Understanding pdf
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