Tenn. Envtl. Council, Inc. v. Bright Par 3 Assocs., L.P.

No. E2003-01982-COA-R3-CV, 2004 Tenn. App. LEXIS 155 (Ct. App. Mar. 8, 2004)

 

RULE:

Tennessee Code Annotated § 66-9-307 provides that conservation easements may be enforced by injunction or proceedings in equity by the holders and/or beneficiaries of the easement, or their bona fide representatives, heirs, or assigns.

FACTS:

A conservation easement affecting property adjoining a creek in a city was created. Property zoned for business and owned and developed by some of defendant landowners was adjacent to the easement. Plaintiff conservationists filed a complaint alleging that defendants’ development and construction activities adversely and unlawfully affected the easement. Plaintiffs appealed against the dismissal of the complaint by the chancery court upon a ruling that plaintiffs had no standing to enforce the easement, notwithstanding the language of the Conservation Easement Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-9-301, et. seq., that it could be enforced by the holder and/or beneficiaries of the easement. The appellate court reversed the judgment of dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings.

ISSUE:

Was the chancery court correct in ruling that plaintiff conservationists had no standing to enforce the conservation easement, notwithstanding the language of the Conservation Easement Act, Tennessee Code Annotated § 66-9-301, et. seq., that it could be enforced by the holder and/or beneficiaries of the easement?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The conservation easement might be enforced by injunction or proceedings in equity by the holder and/or beneficiaries of the easement. The phrase "by the holder and/or beneficiaries” meant someone in addition to the grantee. A conservation easement was “held for the benefit of the people of Tennessee”. Any resident of Tennessee was a beneficiary of the easement, and thus had standing to enforce it.  

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