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Unicoi to make offer for Buffalo Valley Golf Course; Michael Borders hired as town recorder

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Feb 5, 2018 at 9:37 PM

UNICOI — The town of Unicoi will make a conditional, $400,000 offer to purchase Buffalo Valley Golf Course from the city of Johnson City.

The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved a resolution setting out the terms of the offer in a special called meeting on Monday, two days ahead of Johnson City’s deadline for submission of bids on the 121-acre golf course.

While one of the estimated 150 property owners surrounding the golf course called the offer a lowball offer destined to flop, Mayor Johnny Lynch said, “It’s not a lowball to us. We’ve got to stay within our means.”

Conditions of the offer include the town’s down payment of $200,000 and $20,000 yearly installments for the next 10 years to be paid at no interest.

The proposal also includes a stipulation that Johnson City exclude the small wastewater treatment plant located on the golf course from the town’s purchase.

While Aldeman Kathy Bullen requested the board commit to lease or sell the course to a group of property owners who have agreed to form a private association to operate the facility, Town Attorney Lois Shults-Davis said the town could not enter a contract with an association that does not yet exist.

Aldermen Roger Cooper said he would have preferred the landowners provide the town with a notarized commitment to accept financial responsibility for the course. “All we have right now is a promise,” Cooper said.

The board’s approval of the resolution to make the offer followed two weeks of committee meetings heavily attended by property owners and others interested in the fate of the golf course.

Lynch and Alderman Doug Hopson said the crowd of approximately 60 people at Monday night’s meeting was the largest they had seen at any meeting in the town’s history.

Lynch thanked the property owners and committee members for their interest, work and commitment to a business plan that would allow the town to turn over the management of the course to the landowners.

John Bell, who lives near Buffalo Valley’s 18th tee, told the board that, given a month, a letter of commitment to invest in course signed by approximately 60 landowners and other investors could garner 200 signatures and suggested the town sell shares.

“Everyone in Johnson City knows $500,000 was discussed as a lowball (offer),” Bell said. “It’s a $2 million property. I think your $400,000 is going to flop on the floor.”

In other business on Monday, the board voted unanimously to hire Michael Borders as the town’s new top administrator.

Borders will replace Mike Housewright, who resigned in November, as Unicoi town recorder beginning on Thursday.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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