Barrett Firearms sues county, state over road

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Local firearms manufacturer Barrett Enterprises has filed suit against Rutherford County and Tennessee’s Department of Transportation for $4.1 million plus court costs and attorney fees.

Ronnie Barrett, owner and founder of the company, filed suit Friday, alleging TDOT’s refusal to widen Miller Lane near Epps Mill Road has cost the company.

“Upon completion of the expansion of Barrett Firearms, TDOT changed its position on the expansion of Miller Lane …” the suit said. “TDOT designed a new road that would result in violations of local county zoning codes, building codes, Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation water rules and regulations.”

TDOT spokeswoman B.J. Doughty said she “can not comment on pending litigation.”

In 2004, Barrett Firearms received a $40 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to produce the company’s signature .50-caliber rifles for U.S. military snipers in Iraq.

The company’s current 20,000 square foot facility and 60 employees were unable to complete the contract without a 48,000 square foot expansion and the addition of 50 employees.

In order to access land for the needed plant expansion, Barrett proposed extending Miller Lane, next to Interstate 24 and in the beginning TDOT agreed to the plans.

Barrett proposed extending the Rutherford County road at the company’s expense. The extension required TDOT to move a fence adjacent to I-24.

“The gist of our problem is the I-24 fence that is blocking the development of 32 acres of commercial property along I-24,”neighboring landowner C.C. (Bud) Elliot wrote to TDOT in February 2005. “This is blocking any extension of Miller Lane.”

But after an initial assessment from TDOT engineers, the study found storm water issues and fears of possible flooding.

And Barrett had already built the 48,000-square foot plant expansion for $4.1 million.

In September 2007, TDOT said it would not authorize the extension of Miller Lane or moving the fence line.

Barrett has since been sued by Brenda Benz-Elliot because she sold the company more than 5 acres for the site of the plant expansion, contingent on the Miller Lane extension.

The contingency was added because Benz-Elliot cannot access her remaining 100 acres of property without the road extension.

Barrett is suing the state and county for damages and has requested a jury trial.
Read more from:
Barrett Firearms, Brenda Elliot, General Assembly, Ronnie Barrett, TDOT, Tennessee
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Members Opinions:
February 24, 2009 at 6:10pm
I hope Barrett firearms wins this lawsuit! Enough of this Rutherford Co. & Goverment running over the small people! Thats why the country is like it is now. PURE GREED!
February 24, 2009 at 6:46pm
I agree hope you win your lawsuit.
February 25, 2009 at 8:50am
I think going back on your word should be punished. Hope you win.
February 25, 2009 at 10:02am
You're kidding, right? The guy is effectively demanding a government subsidy! Sounds like corporate welfare to me. I don't care what the guy does; his business is fine with me. But if he wants it on a better road, let him move it to one, and don't ask me to help pay to make the one he's on better. I'll get nothing out of that. I can't believe any thinking taxpayer is for this kind of subsidy. And some say the county is greedy. Give me a break!
February 25, 2009 at 11:26am
peri winkle is completely right.

So what if TDOT reneged on a decision? They jumped the gun by buying land and planning expansions BEFORE the road was built. TDOT reserved the right to NOT build the road. They made no business agreement with Barrett.

And, I'm sorry tnlonestar, but the small people? The company has a $40 million contract with the government to build firearms. Hardly SMALL PEOPLE.

And by the way, I'm sure half of you that are in support of Barrett Enterprises successfully suing RuCo and TDOT are the same people who will complain at the drop of a hat over property tax hikes and other state and local taxes. Who's pockets do you think the $4.1 million will come from?
February 25, 2009 at 1:20pm
What's wrong with widening the road to his company? The whole road is probably less than 1/2 mile long. Barrett brings millions of dollars into this county, and is a highly respected company WORLDWIDE! It's not like Mr. Barrett is wanting a new interstate exit to build a bible park. TDOT is run by idiots who should be held personally responsible for their actions.
February 25, 2009 at 1:36pm
Unless I am wrong its not "Barrett's" choice on the lawsuit. Another land owner has filed suit on Barrett for blocking "his" rite-of-way so, the land owner cannot sale his land. And all tdot had to do was move a fence and "let" barrett pay for the road. TDOT screwed Barrett and the other land owner C.C. (Bud) Elliot.
February 25, 2009 at 3:47pm
Devolver and peri winkle,

I guess you missed the part that said it would be at his expense. Sounds like all he needs is a fence moved. I am sure that Mr. Barrett would be willing to take care of that expense as well if they would approve it. The city is notorious for backing up on what they have put in writing or previously approved. They are being sued by many with similar arguments for their incompetence.
February 25, 2009 at 8:29pm
More heavy handed government...when will the silly Liberals learn that it is men just like Mr. Barrett that make this Country what it is today...not the stinking politicians we elect in our government. If I was on that jury I would fight to triple his damage award, let the politicians take it out of their pet projects! Screw them!
February 25, 2009 at 9:33pm
Are you kiddin me. Peri winkly and devolver. Here is a copy of the 8th paragraph down.

Barrett proposed extending the Rutherford County road at the company’s expense. The extension required TDOT to move a fence adjacent to I-24.

All he needs is a fence moved and TDOT changed their minds. And yes, he received a $40mil contract . With that contract he had to agree to build a larger facility and he had to employ 50 more people from the local area. The city and the county made their taxe money on the sale of the property that Barrett had to aquire, and they will benefit on other tax issues.

By the way, before he received this contract they only had 60 people and now they are at 110. Every small business owner would be proud to be able to say they have the opportunity to double the size of their business. However, 110 people does not make for a large company!!! Essentially, he's still a one of the small guys.
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