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FUD, Callaway's Landing settlement reached

A settlement brokered between First Utility District and some owners of Callaway’s Landing by Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale Wednesday, Jan. 5, has quashed two of three lawsuits regarding FUD’s proposed wastewater treatment plant expansion.

Under terms of the settlement, FUD will proceed to acquire land it needs to expand the Turkey Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, while historic structures and the land immediately surrounding them will be spared.

FUD manager Ralph McCarter said, “We’ve come to a good agreement … we can move on” regarding the development of Phase 1 of FUD’s three-phase plan to meet the wastewater needs of the growing district it serves.

“The first phase,” McCarter said concerning the $4-to-5-million project, “will handle hydraulic flows” and estimated that it would take “two years to get Phase 1 on line.”

McCarter added Phase 2 would handle biologic flows and would be developed beginning around 2008. Phase 3, he said, would be “based on demand in ten to fifteen years.”

“This is a victory for both progress and historic preservation,” Ragsdale said. “It’s an example of how good things can happen when people sit down to work out a compromise in good faith.

“I want to publicly express my appreciation to the landowners, the management of First Utility District and the community representatives who worked so hard to seek cooperation over conflict,” Ragsdale added.

In July of 2004, First Utility District voted to condemn 19 acres of land, including a historic home, barn and other antebellum structures. The Ralston family that has owned the land for more than 150 years chose to fight the condemnation. In November, Mayor Ragsdale invited both sides to participate in a series of meetings that eventually uncovered common ground for the compromise that was accepted by both sides (Wednesday).

FUD has planned the expansion of its wastewater treatment capacity to service its 26,000 existing customers and the 1,000 new customers being added annually in West Knox County and to ensure the utility complies with environmental requirements.

As a result of the discussions between the parties, two of the three members of the family that own the land have agreed to a compromise. Instead of taking all 19 acres, First Utility will take only about 12. That gives the utility the space it needs to expand an existing sewage treatment facility.

McCarter said his engineers indicated “if we inhale, we can get what we need in twelve acres instead of the eighteen we sought.”

Neither the historic home, built in 1911, nor the land around it will be touched. A newer home, still occupied by a family member, and the land around it adjacent to the historic home will also be saved. Only that land adjacent to the current First Utility facility will be acquired.

“We’re real happy the mayor was able to work with us and appreciate his help,” said Leland Johnson, husband of Anne Ralston and spokesman for her and Sallie Ralston. Sarah Ralston, the third party in the FUD suits, has been granted a continuance by the court to June 8.


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