Neal, 3 households take Town to court

Seeking to stop Turkey Creek Greenway Extension

The threat has become a reality, as Knoxville attorney John Neal filed a Complaint in Knox County Chancery Court Wednesday, July 3, concerning Town of Farragut’s fiscal year 2025 budgeted plans for Turkey Creek Greenway/Road Improvements.

Neal represents three households (four residents) living along the north side of Turkey Creek Road, as a portion of their front-yard properties close to that road, which also is near Virtue Road, would be subject to eminent domain possession by the Town should it proceed with the greenway expansion, subject to a court ruling blocking the possession as sought in the Complaint.

Plaintiffs are Shirley Harkins, David Galbraith and Howard and Bobbie Tipton.

The Complaint’s closing paragraph begins by stating: “Plaintiffs pray that this Court grant them a declaratory judgement holding that the defendants do not have the right to condemn their property. …”

Defendants are the Town of Farragut and all five elected officials on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Contacted for comment Monday morning, July 8, Williams said he had “no comment at the moment,” adding he had “not seen” a copy of the Complaint. No monetary damages are listed as being sought in this


Complaint No. 13, No. 22

In an e-mailed correspondence with farragutpress, Neal released the document, adding that paragraph No. 13 “pretty well sums up the case.”

That paragraph, and a portion of one other, follow (13 is broken into smaller paragraphs for greater ease of reading):

• 13- The Town of Farragut maintains a series of greenways for the entertainment and pleasure of its residents. The Town wishes to condemn Plaintiffs’ property to allow for an extension of a greenway along Turkey Creek Road.

“… The Town has long planned for this condemnation. During this entire process the project has variously been identified as the Turkey Creek Greenway Extension, the Turkey Creek Greenway Connector or the Turkey Creek/Brixworth Greenway Connector. As recently as March 28, 2024, the Town adopted a 2024 “Strategic Plan” in which it referred to ‘funding for Turkey Creek Road Greenway Connection.’

“There is not one document promulgated by the defendants, which suggests that there is any purpose for the project other than extension of the greenway. The proposal by the engineering firm engaged by the Town suggested three possible alternatives for the extension, one including only a minor 2-foot widening of the road in connection with the greenway work.

“Then, on April 24, 2024, the Tennessee Legislature replaced T.C.A. 29-17-102 with a new version that prohibits the condemnation of private property for “recreational facilities, recreational purposes or parks. … (except for) (A) The acquisition of any interest in land necessary for a road, highway, bridge or other structure, facility or project used for public transportation.

“… Suddenly, the Turkey Creek Greenway extension was no longer a greenway project. … The Town promptly adopted a new budget that referred to the project as ‘Turkey Creek Greenway/Road Improvements.’ The mayor (Ron Williams) wrote an e-mail on June 13, 2024, in which he stated that the project was ‘primarily to improve safety’ on a ‘dangerous curve’ and he referred to the greenway work as ‘sidewalk/trail extensions.’

“When the defendants met to consider the proposed budget, the mayor even stated that he had always thought of this as being a road improvement project. In other words, the Town tried to evade the statute by re-naming the “Greenway Extension” as a road improvement project with related sidewalks.

“Plaintiffs aver that this is essentially an effort by the defendants to defraud them by renaming the project while still accomplishing the long-intended seizure of their property for a greenway extension.”

• Neal’s Complaint further notes, in No. 22, “the defendants met on May 23 to adopt a budget” ... that included $200,000 for the ‘Turkey Creek/Brixworth Greenway’ as a Capital expense. It included $2.3 million for the ‘Turkey Creek/Brixworth Greenway Connection’ as a Proposed Future Capital Project. It says nothing about widening Turkey Creek Road in front of Plaintiffs’ homes.”

Town’s future response

With Town attorney Tom Hale recusing himself due to a possible conflict of interest, the Town was believed to be retaining legal representation.

Editor’s note: We extend an invitation to Town officials and/or the Town’s legal representative(s) to respond to Complaint with quotes/statements intended for publication