Authority votes to 'eject' Owens from property

Oct. 08, 2013 @ 07:12 AM

Following a 25-minute closed session, the Rutherford County Airport Authority voted unanimously to seek a summary ejectment against County Commission Chairman Julius Owens and his wife Wanda.

Owens continues to live on property purchased by the Airport Authority in June.

Under the terms of the purchase contract — which was valued at $300,000 — Owens had 90 days to vacate the property upon the execution of the agreement.

In a letter from Authority attorney Beth Miller, the agreement was executed on June 28, 2013. That gave Owens until Oct. 1, 2013 to leave the property.

According to emails and photos obtained by The Daily Courier between Airport Manager Chris Roach and County Manager Carl Classen, vehicles owned by Owens remained on the property as of Monday afternoon.

Miller's letter to Owens, dated Oct. 2, 2013, said "the property needs to be vacated immediately or the Rutherford Airport Authority will pursue its legal options to remedy the situation."

The summary ejectment is the legal term for what is commonly referred to as eviction.

"I'm just sad it has come to this," said Authority member Eddie Holland. "It's a sad day for this county."

Greg Lovelace inquired as to whether there was an "alternate solution" and Classen said, in discussion with Miller "there were no other options."

Classen also said there was no confusion as to when Owens had to move off the property.

"Based upon the purchase contracts negotiated by the previous Authority, they had 90 days and that term has expired," Classen said.

The Authority purchased the 10-acre tract of land because of a tree on the property violating the federally-mandated glide-slope ratio for the airport.

After two independent appraisers valued the property at $168,800, using a grant from the Division of Aviation, the Authority and Owens agreed on a purchase price of $300,000.

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

The purchase of the property opened an investigation into the actions of the previous Airport Authority that led to the County Commission utilizing a local bill introduced by Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, and passed by the General Assembly during its last session to remove the previous board and replace it with the County Commission.

In its regular meeting, Commissioners:

• approved appointing John Moore to the Economic Development Commission;

• approved appointing Justin Connor to the Planning Commission;

• approved proclaiming Oct. 17 as Bechtler Gold Day;

• approved the records retention schedule for county management, Register of Deeds and Revenue Department;

• approved budget amendments for ICC;

• denied a vehicle tax appeal;

• approved a bid of $897,000 from Clary Hood, Inc. for Queens Gap project 1l;

• approved a bid of $175,000 from APAC-Harrison Construction for Grey Rock project 4 paving.