DAYTON, Tenn. - Rhea County commissioners on Tuesday delayed for at least another month a decision whether to buy property for a jail or justice center, but rejected one parcel that had caused a neighborhood uproar.
Commissioners unanimously voted to reject consideration of a 14-acre tract on 16th Avenue adjacent to Richland Park Shopping Center.
Discussion of that possibility drew strong opposition from neighbors during a public hearing in April.
But a related proposal to buy property on Manufacturer's Road was tabled again, sparking a heated exchange among commissioners.
Commissioner Tom Smith offered a motion to purchase what is known as the Louallen property -- owned by Mayor Gary Louallen -- at a price of $350,000, with the cost to be paid from the county's litigation tax.
However, Vice Chairwoman Emmaly Fisher pointed out that a parcel on West Second Avenue -- owned by former Mayor Bob Vincent -- has been offered as a possible site.
"To do due diligence we need a price on this property," she said. "There are good points about this property, and there are good points on the Louallen property."
Commissioner Bill Hollin moved to table consideration of the Louallen property pending a public hearing, which could include comments on the Vincent property.
Smith objected. "This [process] started out with 12 or 15 pieces of property. We as a body narrowed it down to one piece. Now you want to start all over again, Mr. Hollin. If we changed the name of the Louallen property, I believe it would sell."
Fisher responded, "I resent that. I get along fine with Mr. Louallen and with Mr. Vincent. I'm trying to pick the best piece of property."
Commissioner Grover Parks added, "People want to know why we're not going to use the hospital. They feel like they're getting a runaround. And I never voted to narrow the choices to one property."
They agreed to call a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. before the commission meets on June 18.
In other matters, commissioners agreed to pay former Election Administrator Teresa Snyder the salary she earned through the date she was dismissed. Commissioners agreed to consider any appropriate action after receiving legal advice on how to handle accrued vacation and compensatory time.
Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at email@example.com.