“Ladies and gentlemen, as sometimes happens, the parties last night had serious discussions of this case and after further negotiations, they were able to settle the case,” St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Charles Robinson told jurors. “That means I don’t have anything else for you to try.”
Robinson thanked the jurors before he dismissed them from court.
“I will say this, you look like a good jury,” he said.
Only attorneys representing the parties involved in the lawsuit were present in court Tuesday. Attorney Alan Furr represented the city, and attorney Dwight Blair represented Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of Thunder Enterprises of Chattanooga.
“I appreciate y’all getting this resolved,” Robinson told the attorneys.
The parties settled the case after the Pell City council approved to pay Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC, $1.1 million for the former Avondale Well site along U.S. 231 South at its Monday night council meeting.
According to attorneys, the city has 30 days to pay the money to the court, so the $1.1 million can be awarded to Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC.
The company is responsible for paying the 2009 ad valorem taxes for the property before the transfer of the deed.
The city was required to deposit $750,000 with the Circuit Court to appeal a decision made by the St. Clair County Probate Court. The money is now in a bank account opened by the courts. That money, along with about $4,450 interest it has earned for the past year, will go toward the $1.1 million debt the city owes Pell City-Tifton Properties.
Last year, a commission appointed by St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling determined the fair market value of the well property at $750,000.
City officials contended the value appraised by the commission was too high. Officials with Pell City-Tifton Properties said the value determined by the commission was too low.
Both parties filed appeals and were ready to try the case before an agreement was struck Monday night.
“I think we’re pleased with the outcome,” said Kevin Whiteside, president of Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC. “We were prepared for a trial and for the good people of St. Clair County to make a decision in this case.”
Attorneys involved in the case say Robinson should sign an official order by the end of the week.
“Honestly, we’re glad to have this behind us,” Whiteside said. “This has been going on since November 2008… We’re glad to come to an agreement with the city’s attorney, Mr. Furr.”
According to the agreement, each party is responsible for their own legal expenses.
The mayor and council have declined comment on the matter until the court officially renders its written order.
Last year, at one point, city officials said Pell City-Tifton Properties made a one-time offered to sell the well property to the city for $1 million, after making an initially offer of $1.9 million.
Whiteside said he was uncertain if that offer was made to the city.
“We made a lot of different offers, trying to get this settled,” he said.
City officials say their appraisal of the property last year indicated the one-acre well site was only worth $310,000.
Pell City-Tifton Properties LLC, bought most of the former Avondale Mills properties in 2007, after Avondale Mills closed its doors in Pell City in 2006.
The city was leasing the disputed well from Avondale Mills before Pell-City Tifton Properties LLC, purchased the well site along with other Avondale Mills properties, including the 26-acre mill plant site between Comer Avenue and U.S. 78.
The city could have extended its lease for the use of the Avondale Mills well for another 20 years, but failed to do so before its agreement with the textile company expired.