published Friday, June 29th, 2012

Marion County settles abandoned crossroads property issue

Officials would like to burn this house, at 13063 Griffith Highway in Powells Crossroads, Tenn., as part of volunteer firefighter training.
Officials would like to burn this house, at 13063 Griffith Highway in Powells Crossroads, Tenn., as part of volunteer firefighter training.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
House
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JASPER, Tenn. -- The Marion County Commission has approved a plan to demolish a county-owned building, while providing a training exercise for the Powells Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department.

In May, Powells Crossroads Mayor Ralph Chapin said officials tried to sell the house at 13063 Griffith Highway last year, but no one bought the property because it has a hefty lien of about $20,000 on it.

Chapin asked the county board for permission to burn the house as a training exercise for the city's firefighters.

"That way we can kill two birds with one stone," he said in May. "We can get rid of the house, and we can give our fire department some needed practice."

County Attorney Billy Gouger said the issues of possible air pollution from burning the house and finding out who holds the lien on the property must be worked out before the board could make a firm decision.

On Monday, Gouger said the board could do whatever it wanted with the building because the liens against the property included a 14-year-old state tax lien in the name of the previous owner and a mortgage through a small finance company that is no longer in business.

"The county owns the property," he said. "It has owned it now for almost two years. It's at the discretion of the commissioners on what they want to do with the property."

The county acquired the property through a delinquent tax sale in 2011, officials said.

County Commission Chairman Les Price said the board wanted to make sure it could approve the demolition "without reprisal."

Chapin said the only other concern was the roof shingles on the dilapidated house, which cannot be burned because of air pollution regulations.

The board agreed to allow Marion County Road Supervisor Neal Webb to use equipment to "push the house over" so Powells Crossroads officials can get the shingles off the structure before burning it.

"It's in such bad shape that I don't want to put anyone on it to get those shingles off," Chapin said.

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