Meanwhile, the city of Rossville is claiming it has rights to the lines. The city arrested Coffey last month after he threatened to shut down the lines.
He has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on the matter, the future of which will be decided at a hearing in federal court in Atlanta on March 14.
Coffey was arrested Wednesday, Feb. 16, for making “terroristic threats” against the city and local businesses, claiming the city owes him $985,000 in sewer usage fees, and that if the bill was not paid, he would be forced to cut off the sewer lines.
On Friday Coffey held a news conference to show copies of blueprints of the city of Rossville’s original 1958 plans for building new sewer lines. In the plans, many smaller side sewers were listed as “private,” including one which services Peerless Mills, and which was labeled “private sewer by Peerless.”
According to Coffey, in the late 1950s the city of Rossville found itself in a sewer line entanglement with the city of Chattanooga for inappropriate use of Tennessee lines. The 1958 blueprints which Coffey presented represent, he said, the two cities’ attempt to build new lines for Rossville in order to avoid further conflict. As Rossville was not financially able to build the entire structure itself, alleged Coffey, many local private businesses, including Peerless Mills, fronted the cost for the sewerage lines on their own property, therefore retaining the rights to those particular lines.
Coffey maintains that although the city of Rossville has since that time bought out other properties involved in the sewer line building project and their privately-funded sewers with them, Peerless Mills does not fall under that category.
According to Coffey, the sewer line marked on the 1958 blueprint still belongs to the Peerless Mills property, not to the city, therefore exempting any prescriptive easement the city of Rossville may claim.
Coffey further alleges that the city of Rossville has hooked up its other sewer lines to the one that runs under Peerless Mills, effectively using the private sewer without consent, and without making payment.
He estimates that after his four years of ownership of the Peerless Mills property, the city has racked up $985,000 in sewer usage fees, for which he is demanding payment.