Tenant/ landlord: "Battle Brewing" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tenant/ landlord: "Battle Brewing"

Story by Amy Morrow

Eyewitness News Anchor/Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- It's an environmental battle that's been brewing for years.

We first visited the Old Peerless Mill in 2008 when a businessman contacted us about asbestos.

David Rowan said it was so thick, you could see it in the air.

Our reporter wore a face mask.

Rowan said he was being evicted, for being the whistleblower. And that brings us to Friday.

The bottom line is, this site may still not be safe.

That's a tough call. Rowan says it's unsafe, but the building owner, Lee Coffee, says there's no problem. The only thing we found was an open complaint with OSHA.

"We'll see who goes to jail for theft. It'll be nice to see ya," says Rowan.

David Rowan is the man in the van. He's accusing Lee coffee, owner of the Peerless Woolen Mills building in Rossville, of stealing his equipment. Rowan was once a tenant in the old mill, renting space from Coffee.

Rowan says there is still equipment in the mill that belongs to him, but he says Coffee is scrapping it for money. Rossville Police were called, Chief Sid Adams says Coffee told police Rowan owed back rent for at least two years. It seems this battle has been brewing for sometime.

"If it was so bad, why didn't you pack up the equipment years ago? Why is it still here," asked Coffee.

Rowan says his equipment is there because Coffee won't allow him on the property, but there's more allegations of violations that include the demolition of materials including asbestos.

"We're gonna save Rossville from Leslie Coffee. We're gonna save this town no matter how long it takes," says Rowan. 

So we asked Coffee if the building is contaminated.

"No, there are about 15 tenants in here and they're just happy. That is ludicrous," says Coffee.

We did find a complaint filed with OSHA in 2008. We know Coffee was fined about $37,000 for various violations dealing with asbestos and lead. The case has not been closed to date, so violations could be added or deleted.


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