NEW HOPE, Tenn. -- A pair of brothers in Marion County, Tennessee, has filed a complaint in Chancery Court demanding the town of New Hope remove its facilities from less than a half-acre of land they said now belongs to them after the town moved its volunteer fire department to new digs across the street.
Brothers Charles T. King III and Michael D. King said the half-acre of property their father conveyed to the New Hope Fire Department for its fire hall in the 1970s should revert to them.
They want the old fire hall, a paved parking area, gas pump and a possible underground fuel tank removed from their portion of the property. Their complaint names the town of New Hope, Mayor Mark Myers, Vice Mayor Quinton Choate and Aldermen Mark Phillips and Jerry Crosslin. Crosslin is also the town's fire chief, according to the suit filed in Marion County on Oct. 24.
In 2009, the town constructed a new building for the fire department across the road from the one involved in the suit, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.
New Hope lawsuit
According to a deed record included in the complaint as an exhibit, the King brothers' father, Charles T. King Jr., conveyed the 0.47 acres on June 1, 1974, to himself, J.L. Kennemore and Guy Allen Frame, trustees of the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department. The deed states that if the property ever ceases to be used for the town's fire department, it automatically reverts to King and his heirs.
The town's facilities were built about the time the deed was drafted. When the father died, his property fell to his two sons and daughter, according to court records. His daughter conveyed her interest to her brothers.
New Hope has a population of less than 1,000 spread across its sizable piece of the county sandwiched between the Alabama state line and the Tennessee River. The town's facilities that are at least partially on the half-acre in question consist of a portion of the four-bay fire hall and office marked as City Hall, according to documents. There is also a gas pump and above-ground tank on the property, and the brothers contend there was once an underground fuel tank they want removed if it's still there.
The Kings' complaint seeks an accounting of the possible underground fuel tank, the removal of the part of the paved parking lot and fire hall building that is on the property in question, the restoration of that property to its original condition, a grant of judgment for the fair rental value of the town's use of the Kings' property and an awarding of unspecified damages to the brothers, the complaint states.
The Kings' attorney, Chattanooga lawyer John C. Cavett Jr., could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.
NEW HOPE'S ANSWER
In the town's answer to the complaint, filed Nov. 28, city officials contend the statute of limitations has run out for any claims by the Kings regarding the property. The town also contends the brothers can't seek relief because the city has possessed the land and improvements for more than 20 years.
A phone number for Myers, the town mayor, was no longer working Friday, and city offices are closed Thursdays and Fridays, so no officials were answering.
New Hope's attorney, Chattanooga lawyer Tracy C. Wooden, could not speak about the case.
"It's a matter pending before the court, and therefore, I do not want to comment publicly outside the court record, period," Wooden said Friday when contacted by phone.
The statute of limitations law cited set the limit at seven years after the right of legal action is accrued, according to state law. The town does not acknowledge the property now reverting to the Kings, according to the town's answer.
Chancery Court officials said no new hearing dates have been set in the case.