Emerson Properties owner feels tax break given by board of equalizations too small

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Emerson Properties recently received a tax break amounting to just under $42,500 after the Campbell County Board of Equalizations reassessed 241 pieces of its properties. Emerson Properties owner Boog Potter feels this reduction still isn’t enough.

“It’s still too high,” Potter said. “I bought the property in 2009 for less than $1 million.”

Potter believes the property was appraised too high by the property assessor’s office.

“If he feels a 90 percent reduction is too high, then what does he plan on getting out of this property?” Campbell County Property Assessor Brandon Partin said. “We’ve repeatedly tried to help him. We’ve repeatedly tried to offer him advice.”

Potter bought the property from Land Resources. He feels the property was being sold at inflated prices when Land Resources owned it. Land Resources didn’t develop the infrastructure enough to make it worth what it had been sold for, Potter said. The property assessor’s office continued to appraise the land too high, basing the appraisals on inflated values, Potter said.

“The assessor’s office valuation of the property (was wrong),” Potter said. “Basically valued unfinished farmland as a subdivision with roads, with water access and sewer access.”

This is why Potter repeatedly appealed to the county board of equalizations, to have the value of 241 of his pieces property reassessed. The majority of these pieces of property, over 150 of them, Potter doesn’t intend to develop, nor does he believe he will sell them.

“I’ve appealed every year,” Potter said. “On technicality, I’ve not been able to win in the past. Finally, rational people on the county board of equalizations recognized that over half of the parcels will never be developed. They’re nothing but farmland.”

In June, the county board of equalizations evaluated 285 pieces of property. Two hundred forty-one of the 261 that were granted reassessments belonged to Emerson properties, according to records generated by the county board of equalizations. Emerson Properties received just under $42,500 of the $51,648 in total tax reductions that resulted from the decisions the county board of equalizations made when it met, according to Campbell County Director of Finance Jeff Marlow.

Since Potter doesn’t believe he will sell the majority of the 241 pieces of property that were reassessed, he wanted to lower his property taxes.

“I’m just trying to get the taxes reduced,” Potter said. “I don’t think there’s any way in hell I can sell the land at what it’s valued at. I would be ecstatic if I sold the property for half of what the county had it valued at.”

Besides the 241 pieces of property that were brought before the county board of equalizations, there are 400 lots at the Villages of Norris Lake, Potter said. Emerson Properties owns 100 of them. There are currently only two homes on these lots, and two being built.

Emerson Properties is working with the Caryville-Jacksboro Utilities Commission to install a water treatment plant to provide water to homes at the Villages at Norris Lake.

“You have to have a utility company that actually has a permit,” Potter said.

Caryville-Jacksboro Utilities Commission was issued a permit by the state, he said. Additional homes are scheduled to be built when water becomes available, once the water treatment plant is installed.

“When we inherited this project, there was $6 million worth of development,” Potter said, referring to roads, utilities and sewer work that needed to be finished.

Emerson Properties has spent $5 million working on this project, Potter said.

“The only thing we’re doing is we’re building the treatment plant,” he said.

Installing the water treatment plant is four-stage process, Potter said. Each stage will connect about 100 homes to the water treatment plant. The first stage should be completed by the end of the year, he said.

The stages are sectional, and can be added as necessary, Potter said.

Tennessee Wastewater Systems, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Emerson Properties, Caryville-Jacksboro Utilities Commission and the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, according to records from the 20th District Judicial District Chancery Court.

“Just another outfit that’s about as crooked as Land Resources,” Potter said in reference to TWSI. “We’re not going to be held hostage.”

TWSI argued it had the right to provide utility services at the Villages at Norris Lake, but its contracts were null and void, Potter said.

“When we went to (CJUC), they didn’t like that,” Potter said.

TWSI filed a complaint with the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, who agreed with Emerson Properties’ rights to seek CJUC’s services, Potter said. Then TWSI sued all three entities.

Potter went before the Campbell County Planning Commission Monday night to give an update on his project at the Villages at Norris Lake.