Owens ejectment case continued

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 05:03 AM

The Rutherford County Airport Authority's case against County Commission Chairman Julius Owens has been continued for another week.

Rutherford County Small Claims Magistrate Bryan Smith ordered the case continued after a five minute hearing Tuesday morning at the Rutherford County Courthouse.

The Authority filed a summary ejectment case — or eviction — against Owens and his wife Wanda and asked the court to rule for an immediate vacating of the property purchased by the Authority in June.

Owens' attorney, Bob Wolfe, asked for the continuance at the onset of the hearing.

"They are in the process of moving and have actually started moving this past weekend," Wolfe said. "They are making efforts to get off the property."

Wolfe added that Owens has a closing scheduled for his new property on Thursday.

"They won't actually get physical possession until next weekend because the sellers have not vacated the property," Wolfe said. "We have to give them time to do that."

Authority attorney Beth Miller objected to the continuance motion because, she said, witnesses were in court to testify Tuesday.

"The premises was supposed to be vacated more than three weeks ago and we would like to get an order to see that the Owens' vacate the property as soon as possible," Miller said.

However, Smith said because the case was on the docket for the first time, he could grant the continuance to next Tuesday.

On June 28, the Authority executed an agreement to purchase Owens' 10-acre tract for the purpose of removing a tree that violated the airport's glide-slope ratio approach to the runway.

Miller issued a letter to Owens dated Oct 2 which said "the property needs to be vacated immediately or the Rutherford Airport Authority will pursue its legal options to remedy the situation."

The only comment Owens has offered during the process is he had a contract on another house in September.

"We've already bought a house and had a contract on a house before the 90 days was up," Owens said. "We just haven't got it closed yet. It's just taken longer than I anticipated."

Owens sold his 10-acre tract to the Authority for $300,000 — nearly double its independently appraised value. Prior to the sale, he had 15 other conditions for the sale including paying $100 a month in rent to stay on the property "during the time they reside on the property, after the acquisition of their property," however all conditions — with the exception of the purchase price — were rejected by the Authority.

Since the execution of the contract, the tree in question has been removed.

If Owens closes on the new property on Thursday and vacates the property now owned by the Airport, Wolfe said next week's hearing should be simple.

"That will make this whole thing moot," Wolfe said.