published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

EPA, attorney for note holder tour 105-year-old Peerless Mill

by Andy Johns
  • photo
    Les Coffey, owner of the Peerless Mill in Rossville, shows off a check that has been discarded in the abandoned mill as he leads RDC attorney Philip Whitaker, Don Bynum, and Mitchell Bell on a tour of the 105-year old facility Wednesday.
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry

ROSSVILLE -- The owner of the Peerless Mill got visits from an attorney who doesn't want him to tear down the mill and federal officials who warned him to be careful if he does.

Owner Les Coffey said he got a visit from Environmental Protection Agency officials Wednesday who said they had been flooded with concerns and complaints from local residents on potential contamination from demolition.

The last time Coffey knocked down a building at Peerless in 2008, he was investigated by Georgia environmental officials for improper asbestos disposal after tenants complained.

Coffey said the agents told him he would have to give the EPA 10 days' notice before he began demolition so they could evaluate the 27-acre site.

Contacted after 4 p.m. Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the EPA in Atlanta said she would try to confirm the visit and provide more details today.

Earlier in the day, Coffey led representatives from the company that holds the note on the mill on an inspection, and the fate of the Peerless appears headed to court.

An attorney for note holder RDC obtained an emergency injunction Tuesday preventing Coffey from demolishing the 105-year-old mill. A meeting between the two parties Wednesday morning was more inspection than dialogue.

"Apparently, they didn't want to work anything out because they didn't talk today," Coffey said.

He said he expects an emergency hearing before a judge later this week.

Coffey bought the mill from RDC for $1.3 million in 2007. If a judge determines Coffey has violated terms of the deal, RDC could say he defaulted on the property and force it into foreclosure.

RDC's inspection was triggered by a line in the deed that says, "No part of the premises shall be materially altered without the prior written consent of grantee."

Made up primarily of members of the Hutcheson family of Northwest Georgia, RDC owned the mill for about 50 years as well as other properties around Catoosa and Walker counties.

Attorney Philip Whitaker, former Peerless maintenance man Don Bynum and Mitchell Bell, who married into the Hutcheson family, represented RDC.

Whitaker carried a videocamera on the tour, apparently paying particular attention to areas that appeared to be partially demolished and former locations of air conditioning units that had been scrapped.

Neither Whitaker, Bell nor Bynum would comment publicly. During the tour, Whitaker and Bell questioned Bynum about buildings, air conditioners and wiring, asking him to remember what might be missing.

Coffey pointed out to Whitaker the improvements to the site, loudly asking the RDC crew if they remembered the enhancements and mocking them when they didn't respond. He pointedly showed how he and his crews had "materially altered" the site with renovations but said RDC never made him get approval for those.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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jpo3136 said...

Our local idea of "environmentalism" is re-using duct tape. If our people have "flooded" the EPA with complaint calls, surely they will do something. At least stop the music long enough to see that basic precautions are in place. We'll see.

This'd be very entertaining if it wasn't a disaster in the making.

February 10, 2011 at 1:12 a.m.
raybarker444 said...

Tick tock tick tock the clock is ticking till the city will finally be free of this bankrupt psychopath.

February 10, 2011 at 4:33 a.m.
lcoffey1 said...


I am running on the world time clock. It never stops. Will not be too long before I have no reason to post or respond to all these crazy blogs you and others make.

I sure did not see you around yesterday.

Have fun Mr. Barker smelling and looking at what your leaders and friends have created for the city.

February 10, 2011 at 8:35 a.m.
alprova said...

Mr. Coffey, you're brave and clearly desperate, but you're just not that smart.

You see, people who buy properties to profit from in some manner, usually keep up their mortgage payments in order to have a good reason to lay claim to the property.

You want your cake and to eat it too. You haven't paid for the property for three years, so now you want to destroy it for salvage, supposedly for three times what you paid for the property, then everyone is to believe that you will then satisfy all outstanding debts.

You may well have that intention and you may even follow through with it if allowed, but if your figures are indeed realistic, what makes you think you have a legal claim to that property at this point? There are plenty of people who do have the money to displace you, and reap the bounty for themselves.

Announcing that you intend to profit from your venture, while in a severe and current state of default, was not a good strategy in my opinion.

You're for all practical purposes, currently worthless on paper, yet everyone is to accept and believe that you have the means to begin to tear apart the property properly AND to take care to dispose of the asbestos that plagues the buildings.

The more you write, and goodness knows there are plenty of examples to read in local forums, about the only thing more unstable than yourself, is that powdered asbestos that none of us wants to see become airborne.

Don't blame anyone but yourself for the way things are going. You created your own problems the minute that you attempted to side-step Georgia law and to immediately oust a paying tenant with a legitimate environmental concern that you should have been on top of and aware of yourself.

February 10, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Alprova: Apparently you know very little as we have been paying the note for 3 years. That is 12,000 a month for 3 years. That is why we have a right to the property.

If you really knew what you were talking about then I may give you some credibility.

February 10, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

User profile: alprova Joined: Feb. 14, 2009

Comments posted: 1897 (view all)

Apparently this guy is an unemployed loser who want to be somebody by constantly posting on the Times Free Press Articles. 1897 post in 2 years. That is about 3 post a day 7 days a week for 2 straight years.

As I siad he has no credibility.

February 10, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
RalphS said...

Mr. Coffey, How about paying your property taxes? I do and you should.

February 11, 2011 at 10:20 p.m.
RalphS said...

Mr. Coffey, You are obvioulsly an illegitimate buisness man. You purchased an Apartment building on James St. a year ago and then proceeded to take advantage of your new tenants by illegally forcing them to sign new leases and not honoring their current leases. You took advantage of disabled people outside of the law. You also hire people under the table to work for you for almost nothing. You sir, are a crook.

February 15, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.
NGAdad said...

... bankrupt psychopath.

Yep. That about sums it up.

I am encouraged that now our police and courts are no longer intimidated by this bellicose fraud. Of course, with his connections to the county boss hog, Bebe, we may yet see this refuse float to the top. Surely, see will embrace this new charge of "terroristic threats" and insist that Coffey is immune from the law.

February 17, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.

I love how Les attacks alprova for his/her posts and then attacks the credibility. Isn't it possible that they are retired? And no Mr. Coffey, you can easily post up to 50 times a day without noticing as I have seen alprova on the political logs. However I do find it interesting, you attack her as a "loser" when your illiteracy and poor grammar is the story of your significant lack of intelligence. I know I just divulged into the ad hominem of your psychopathic mind. I just think that with your past arrest record, record of business, and the fact that you are contradicting yourself on one post ( with the stories written here, that you are fighting unarmed in a battle of wits.

February 18, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
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