Nathan Luna, chairman of the Cannon County Board of Zoning Appeals, has offered his legal services to the board pro bono, after new county attorney, Chris Coats, in an executive session of the county commission which took place Saturday, April 13, announced he was withdrawing as the county's attorney in a lawsuit to attempt to stop S2L Recovery (formerly known as Spring 2 Life Ministries) from reportedly building a drug and alcohol recovery house on Doolittle Road -- which is a violation of the new county zoning codes.
S2L Recovery currently operates a addiction treatment center at a lodge located on Hill Creek Road. There has been no statement from the organization as to what its plans are for the home on Doolittle Road.
Luna, a practicing attorney with offices in Murfreesboro, along with Woodbury attorney Matthew Cowan, have joined to represent residents of Doolittle Road. Luna reported to the BZA they have filed 16 motions to intervene in the lawsuit, which was filed by Cannon County.
On April 22 during a court appearance, the judge recused himself so the case was reset for June. However, the case probably won't be heard then because it is unlikely a new judge will be assigned in time.
The intervention was filed by the residents after it was determined they felt the county representation and lawsuit regarding the issue were not sufficient.
Second District Commissioner Corey Davenport, who is one of the county commissioners in the district of Doolittle Road and lives near the location of the house in question, told the BZA that during two neighborhood meetings with Doolittle residents, residents were not happy with the actions and motions submitted by Coats.
Davenport said he told Coats in the executive session the citizens would prefer he not be the attorney representing the county. Davenport asked him if he would be willing to step aside and allow the BZA to choose their own attorney to represent the county and Coats agreed to do it.
According to a restraining order which was filed on March 15, Cannon County Executive Brent Bush spoke with Spring2Life Pastor Adam Comer, who informed Bush the organization was a 501 (c) (3) organization and was exempt from residential restrictions. Bush then filed a cease and desist order. Allegedly after the order was filed, the remodeling of the house has been ongoing.
Davenport said the motion itself didn't offer any request for relief. The residents would like to see the organization be fined $50 a day for every day they are found in violation of the law.
It also did not specifically explain what S2L Recovery might be in violation of.
BZA members also expressed disappointment during discussion that the county attorney, commission and executive were addressing this issue and leaving the BZA out of the discussions.
The board approved Luna representing them pro bono in this matter pending upon the residents he currently represents signing a conflict waiver.