TVA wins battle over Yellow Creek homeowners

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

Authority can make its own decisions about how to restore its property in northern Tishomingo County as the result of a recent decision in U.S. District Court.
Homeowners along the Yellow Creek shoreline that overlooks the TVA property recently asked the court to force the agency to restore its property with strict guidelines to stop erosion of the site and replant trees to improve the property’s aesthetics.
However, Judge Sharion Aycock on Feb. 22 ruled for TVA since the proposed marina development that prompted the complaint has been canceled.
She also found that the group of property owners do not have “legal right to sue for the enforcement of specific conditions.”
TVA attorney Maria Gillen noted during the Feb. 12 hearing that the agency has already begun work to correct erosion of the property, and does not need to have specific requirements imposed on it.
TVA leased the property to Tishomingo County in 2000 for economic development purposes, with the property later subleased to a developer for a marina project.
The same neighboring property owners objected to the development, saying it would cause environmental damage to the property and the waterway.
After TVA approved the project, the property owners won a federal court injunction that halted work at the site for more than a year. However, the property’s shoreline was left barren by clear-cutting in the early stages of development.
Tishomingo County canceled the project in 2008, and TVA reclaimed the property.
Plaintiff attorney John Heflin of Memphis said his clients were pleased to have stopped the marina project in its final form, which would have benefited a single developer rather than the entire community.
“My clients are also pleased that at the recent court hearing TVA committed to replant the property as a first step toward restoring its former beauty,” Heflin said. “TVA has not always followed through with such promises in the past, but we are optimistic that TVA will restore the appearance of this public land.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.