The Lebanon Democrat has now posted on the internet the story that was published in the Mt. Juliet News last week. Access requires registration, but it is free.
Here’s a summary of the exchange between Vice Mayor Hagerty and Mayor Elam reported in that story:
Vice Mayor Hagerty: how did “up to eight acres” get changed to “just four?”
Mayor Elam: “I’m very comfortable now that no more than 4 acres are required.”
Vice Mayor Hagerty: “the commission should go back and ask for eight acres.”
Mayor Elam: “John Gipson never promised that, just whatever was necessary to build a police station.”
City Attorney Louis Oliver turned the conversation upside down when he presented the original resolution addressing the land donation.
“Condition No. 6 in the resolution says “not less than eight acres,” Oliver said, waving the document. “It was approved. That was the condition of the ordinance based on the original plan.”
Mayor Elam: “This is not what I know. It was not the original intent. What was written and agreed upon may be two different things.”
Jere McCulloch (attorney for the developer): “We need to roll. Just pass it. You’ve got eight acres of land. You’ve done a heck of a job.”
There are several astonishing things in this exchange.
One: the revelation that the Mayor, without any authorization under the city charter and without any authorization by the City Commission has taken it upon herself to “negotiate” with the developer. None of the five members of the City Commission has any authority to do anything in the name of the city on their own – including the Mayor.
6-20-206. Exercise of board’s powers. —
The board shall exercise its powers in session duly assembled, and no member or group of members thereof shall exercise or attempt to exercise the powers conferred upon the board, except through proceedings adopted at some regular or special session.
So, unless the City Commission voted to authorize the Mayor to negotiate on their behalf, she has no authority to do so. And even if she does reach some agreement with the developer, its not valid until approved by a vote of the City Commission.
Second: The Mayor is either lying about the original agreement with the developer or she’s grossly negligent. She wants us to believe that she negotiated with the developer without bothering to look up what the developer had already agreed to? The City Commission had already adopted an ordinance approving the Paddocks development as a commercial PUD. It passed on two readings in 2006. Mayor Elam voted for it. Linked below is the ordinance the Mayor voted for and signed. If it didn’t reflect the “agreement” with the developer that she had reached, why did she vote for it?
Here’s the text of the ordinance passed by the City Commission in 2006 rezoning the Thurman property and approving the Paddocks PUD. Note condition 6.
6. Developer shall convey a fee simple interest to not less than eight (8) acres of the Property to the City of Mt. Juliet, said 8 acres to be located on Pleasant Grove Road at the northwest corner of the Property.
There was nothing in this original condition that made any reference to a police station. There were no restrictions on what the city might choose to do with the property. It was a “fee simple interest” which, by definition, is unrestricted.
The Mayor is either lying or she’s an incompetent negotiator.
In either case, it makes you wonder what her motivation is to reduce the amount of land which will be donated to the city and to limit what the city could do with the land. Why would Mayor Elam seek to reduce the size of the tract by 50%? How can she defend that action as being in the best interest of the city?