Purchase of Hampton Watershed property on docket for city leaders

Published 3:28 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

Ensuring quality for one local community’s water supply is the reasoning behind a resolution on Elizabethton City Council’s Thursday agenda.

Officials will meet Thursday inside City Hall and vote on a plan to acquire roughly 74 acres of land in Hampton near the watershed area for $130,000 in the hopes of maintaining the quality of the Hampton Spring.

According to documents provided by City Hall, the measure was brought before city leaders in 2017 when resident Eugene Lewis informed the Water Resources Department he purchased the property near the watershed and presented a “1950 court decree that gave him access, across the City’s protected watershed area, for logging on his newly acquired property.”

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Water Resources Manager Johann Coetzee and City Attorney Roger Day worked alongside Lewis to find a solution to the issue until both parties came to a conclusion that “it would be unlikely for Mr. Lewis to be able to service economic benefit from his property without causing harm to the City’s watershed area,” which resulted in Lewis offering to sell the property to the city for $130,000.

According to the Tennessee State Comptroller Office, the land market value for the property is $114,200 and is nestled between over 230 acres belonging to Doe River Gorge and the city’s 164.60 acres.

In a memorandum from Coetzee to Day, the purchase “means that, together with the Doe River Gorge acreage, … there will be 496.69 acres of contiguous protected land west of the Forest Service reserve. This will ensure the safety and quality of our community’s water for many generations to come.”

The City of Elizabethton purchased the Hampton Spring in the 1930s from the Mountain Spring Water Company and serves as a “major source of water for the citizens” in the City, according to the resolution.

Water Resources Department indicates the protected area is the catchment for the Hampton Spring and accounts for 53 percent of available water for Elizabethton and roughly 60 percent of the department’s average production.

Another resolution on the docket during the meeting is a first-reading on an ordinance to increase the appropriation of the water/sewer fund balance by $130,000 to address the cost of the potential purchase.