The Coffee County Commission voted against a resolution to grant an easement on a portion of the Arrowheads Aerospace Museum property to Blue Ocean, GP. Blue Ocean needs the land for utilization as a retention pond, which would allow for constructing a La Quinta Inns & Suites on the property. Rejecting the resolution, which failed with 6 ‘yes’ and 12 ‘no’ votes, has stalled the construction process for the hotel. The Coffee County Commission met Nov. 10.
Blue Ocean owns the property adjacent to the museum property and plans to build a La Quinta, but needs the utilization of approximately one-third of an acre of museum property, located at the southeast corner of the museum tract.
Blue Ocean bought the adjacent property, 1.3 acres, for $190,000 in 2017, according to register of deeds documents. The La Quinta is expected to be built on Hospitality Boulevard, between the Arrowheads Aerospace Museum and Comfort Suites and across from the Holiday Inn Express and Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center. The La Quinta Inns and Suites received a final site plan approval by the Manchester Planning Commission in Jan. 18, 2018.
During the discussion on Nov. 10, Commissioner Joey Hobbs said, “before we give away any piece of property we should fully vet who would be interested in it based on the whole property, not just parts of it.”
According to Coffee County Mayor Cordell, “there are too many unknowns,” related to the situation.
“We need to research this issue further,” Cordell said.
The county has filed a lawsuit against the museum, asking the court to determine if the museum property is owned by the county.
Commissioner Lynn Sebourn said he would like to have more information before he approves an easement.
“I voted against the resolution to grant an easement,” Sebourn said. “I thought it would be better to settle the ownership question with the museum before we started entering into further transactions.”
According to the presented resolution, Coffee County owns the reverter interest in a tract of land of approximately 5 acres on Hospitality Boulevard, currently titled in the name of Coffee County Manchester Tullahoma Museum, Inc. The land is subject to a reverter to the county, states the resolution. Reverter is the right of the original owner to possess property on the death of the present possessor or at the end of a lease. The Arrowheads Aerospace Museum has been operated by Coffee County Manchester Tullahoma Museum, a nonprofit organization. The museum has been closed since the death of Judy Worthington, who served as museum director. Worthington died Feb. 10, 2020.
The museum directors have conveyed an easement to Blue Ocean, “however, they were without authority to make that conveyance without approval of the County, because of the County’s reverter interest in the land,” the resolution states, and that’s why Blue Ocean needs an easement from the county.
The county has filed a lawsuit against the museum asking the court to determine if the museum property in question has reverted to the county due to lack of utilization as a museum.
Additionally, negotiations are underway between county officials, museum officials and a potential purchaser of the museum property. The purchasers interested in the portion of the museum property have already confirmed that conveyance of the easement would not adversely affect their interest in the property and they would like to utilize the retention pond as well, according to the presented resolution.