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Committee questions 2007 verbal agreement

During last week’s meeting, Budget Committee members questioned the county’s obligation to fulfill a verbal agreement made by former Mayor George Jaynes to Jonesborough contractor Marvin Carter.
The resolution from the Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Committee indicates 3.14 acres from a residential development under way were purchased from Marvin Carter to create a buffer on the northern boundary line of the Nakatetsu Machining Technologies site in the Washington County Industrial Park.
In accordance with the approved option agreement, according to information supplied by Carter, waterlines and eight sewer taps must be moved to allow Carter to continue the subdivision development.
Carter and Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford first brought the request to the CIA Committee in March.
At that time, members voted to ask the purchasing agent to obtain costs for moving the eight taps.
During their April 14 meeting, Rutherford told CIA members the cost to move the taps would be almost $36,000.
“We’re not digging them up. We’re just extending the sewer line,” he said. “Mr. Carter has already purchased the taps.”
Commissioner David Shanks wanted to know the length of the extension, and Carter said it was probably 400 feet to the pump station.
Commissioner Steve Light made a motion to recommend fulfilling the request to the Budget Committee.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Alpha Bridger and passed with unanimous approval.
When the resolution was considered two days later, Budget Committee members said more information is needed.
Mayor Dan Eldridge said the county bought eight lots from Carter in 2007 because of the homes that were intially to be built near the Nakatetsu Machining Technologies site.
“It became a dealbreaker for Nakatetsu at the time,” Commission Chair Greg Matherly said.
Matherly said he met with Carter and asked interim County Attorney Keith Bowers to research the decision. “In talking with Mayor Jaynes who was the one who actually brokered the agreement, (Jaynes) said he can’t remember,” Matherly told Budget Committee members. Bowers said he was unable to find any documentation.
Eldridge said he has the contract and deed, and while the agreement does include a buffering requirement, he does not remember anything about the taps. He requested all of the information be forwarded to Bowers for review.
“Some of our predecessors may have made verbal agreements, but if we didn’t memorialize them in writing, I don’t think we have an obligation,” Commissioner Mitch Meredith said.
Meredith made a motion to defer a decision until the May meeting in order to give Bowers time to review the available information.
Commissioner Peter Speropulos seconded the motion, which passed with unanimous approval.