School board accepts land donation from Chesser Plantation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Despite the opposition of board member Donna Morris, the Shelby County Board of Education has accepted the donation of 35 acres of land from the Chesser Plantation subdivision off Highway 280 in Chelsea for a potential school site.

At the board’s July meeting, Morris questioned the suitability of the site for school construction.

But in a 3-1 vote, the board followed the recommendation of Superintendent Evan Major to accept what was described as &uot;a beautiful piece of property&uot; situated on a ridge at the rear of the subdivision.

Tom Ferguson, director of operations for Shelby County Schools, said the property will require some site grading.

But, he pointed out, even on flat ground one does not know what lies beneath.

He said the property &uot;could be suitable if we decide to move in that direction.&uot;

However, he stressed there would be &uot;no obligation&uot; on the board to build on the site.

Morris said she appreciated the developer (William L. Thornton III) for his &uot;forward thinking to offer a school site.&uot;

However, she said the school board’s acceptance of the property will allow the developer &uot;to advertise a school site,&uot; proving a better market for the property.

And while she said the gain would be &uot;wonderful&uot; for the developer, she asked, &uot;If the property takes a tremendous amount of site work, what good is it to us? We end up with egg on our face because we did not put a school there.&uot;

Morris also asked if there was a need for expansion, would the expansion have to hang &uot;off a ledge.&uot;

Major said the question before the board was whether to accept the property with the understanding that there may not be construction on the site. He said either the board would build a school on the site or the property reverts to the owners.

Board member Martin pointed out that the 35 acres offered would not be taxable.

But Ferguson noted that property was accepted in the Weatherly development under the same agreement.

Board president Dr. Lee Doebler said the board needed to look at what’s good for it rather than the developer and it needed to lock down a piece of property.

Boardmember Trey Ireland said he appreciated the builder wanting to give the property to the school board but said in his opinion the property is not big enough for a middle school. He said he was for accepting the land, but he did not want there to be any misconception.

Ferguson said the property could be used for either a middle school or primary school.

Ireland commended Len Ward and other members of the Shelby County Planning Commission for going forward. However, he said he would like to see a feasibility study on the property at the Chesser subdivision.

According to Thornton Construction Company, Chesser Plantation will be a master planned community with a balance of family-sized homes, service and convenience stores, offices, open spaces and a lake. Chelsea city officials say the development will contain some 300 homes