MDHA, property owner in dispute over land

Friday, August 24, 2001 at 12:00am

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority plans to build affordable town homes on a lot in North Nashville, even though the owner of the lot is involved in a court case against MDHA and, if he prevails, the agency would likely have to give the land back.

Kenneth Eaton, owner of the 22-year-old Eaton Car Village, has until Saturday to be off his property. MDHA plans to break ground in September.

MDHA originally tried to obtain the used-car lot at 1001 Eighth Ave. N, which neighbors referred to as an "eyesore," in February, to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for local residents. MDHA and Affordable Housing Resources Inc. plan to use the land to build town homes, ranging in price from $109,000 to $159,000.

Eaton was informed by written notice in 1993 and 1999 that his property had been targeted for acquisition under the Phillips-Jackson Street Plan, which was the blueprint for urban renewal in the area.

Eaton and his attorney, Jim Fisher, filed an "extraordinary appeal" with the Tennessee Court of Appeals two weeks ago, asking them to intervene on an earlier ruling made by Davidson County Circuit Judge Barbara Haynes.

The Court of Appeals lifted a temporary stay against Eaton having to give up his land. He regained possession of his property for nine days while the court considered the case. Ultimately, it decided not to intervene.

"...MDHA is looking forward to moving ahead with the planned development project," MDHA Executive Director Gerald F. Nicely said in a statement. "The addition of the 30 new town homes will contribute to a welcomed mix of housing in the Hope Gardens Neighborhood and aid in our efforts toward enhancing the community livability of the area. We are pleased to be a partner in helping meet the Mayor's goal of dramatically increasing the supply of affordable housing in Nashville."

But according to Fisher, the appeals court did not rule MDHA had the legal right to take the property, but ruled it was not going to get involved "in the middle of the case.

"The court of appeals was asked to intervene immediately and make a ruling on whether or not MDHA's taking of Mr. Eaton

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