Johnson's Crook May Be Sold To Contractor, But Georgia Land Trust Says Deal Will Include Conservation Easement

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Some 1,800 acres at scenic and historic Johnson's Crook may be sold by the Georgia Land Trust to a contractor, but officials said a conservation easement would be part of the deal.

Katherine Eddins, executive director of the land trust, said Royce and Gloria Cornelison of P&C Construction have bought a barn and some ruins at the Lookout Mountain site at Rising Fawn, Ga., in Dade County, and are interesting in acquiring the rest of the property.

She said in an email to "Friends of Johnson's Crook" that the state is not in a position to take title to the land - even if the land trust deeded it over to them.

The property goes from near the top of the mountain near the old site of the Plum Nelly Art Festival to the valley below and includes a number of caves. A road that was used by soldiers during the Civil War goes from the top of the mountain through the property.

The Southern Land Company had acquired the property with plans to develop it as "The Preserve." But two people involved with that scheme were arrested and convicted of fraud, and the property went into bankruptcy. The land trust acquired the property out of bankruptcy and through gifts from banks who lost millions of dollars in the fraud.

Ms. Eddins said in the email, "There are rumors flying around about the land trust and our use/intentions about the Preserve.  Apparently, there is a rumor that we have sold the land to a developer, and/or plan to develop the land.

"We still own the land, and are in no contract concerning the land.  We do not intend to develop the land.  The mission of the Georgia Land Trust is to protect land for present and future generations.  We are not a development company.

"We have been speaking with several families about acquiring all or a portion of our 1800 acres, and the purchaser permanently conserving the land with a conservation easement.   One such family, the Cornelisons, acquired the barn and ruins from the Bankruptcy Trustee.  Royce and Gloria Cornelison and their sons have been talking with a framer about restoring the ruins to a functional home.  Some confusion might abound because the Cornelisons are in the construction business.  This family has conserved several farms and forests, and are considering working with Georgia Land Trust to preserve this land permanently.

"One question that has come up concerns transferring the land to the State to use as a WMA and hunting preserve.  The State does not have the funds to manage the land, even if it were gifted to them by us.

"We will continue to explore the best ways to protect AND steward Johnson's Crook and will be sending out periodic updates."



Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us ... (click for more)

Tennessee-Led Coalition Seeks Documents From Opioid Manufacturers And Distributors

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III on Tuesday announced a bipartisan coalition of Attorneys General seeks documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids as part of multistate investigations into the nationwide opioid epidemic. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged ... (click for more)

Tired Of Property Tax Increases

Why is it every time the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County want to raise money they have to punish the homeowners?  I'm sick of the few paying for the many.   If you want to be fair, I would not complain on a 1/2 cent local sales tax raise since everyone would have to contribute their fair share.  Or how about a wheel tax which would get everyone who owns ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Third Son Takes His Life

Steven Ferrin, described by his parents as “a handsome, bubbly and witty young man,” was the victim of what is called “a sectarian attack” in recent weeks near his home in north Belfast (Ireland) and last weekend was found dead after the 31-year-old father of a 7-year-old girl had taken his own life. Compounding the tragedy is the horrific news that Steven’s other two brothers and ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Rallies To Sweep Notre Dame

Home court advantage plays a vital role in many sports, but especially in high school volleyball. The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers went to Notre Dame on August 22 for a critical district match and they headed back home after losing a close match by a 3-1 margin against the Lady Irish. The shoe was on the other foot Monday night as they two teams squared off at Boyd-Buchanan’s ... (click for more)

Moving From Florida Debacle, Jones Says: 'I'm Responsible'

Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, under heavy criticism after the Vols’ disappointing last-play loss at Florida, said Monday the resulting team's sense of urgency “starts with me. … I’m responsible.” Jones made the remarks at a weekly press conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, as the Vols begin preparations for Saturday’s home game against UMass. Referring to numerous ... (click for more)