Gallatin bait shop learns it sits on corps property - WSMV Channel 4

Gallatin bait shop learns it sits on Army Corps of Engineers property

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GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) -

A small family firm in Gallatin says it is being bullied out of business by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Flippers Bait & Tackle has been doing business on Bull Creek for more than a quarter of a century, but some heartbreaking news may now spell the end.

Owner Flipper Copeland loves every aspect of fishing and boating. He can identify all different types of fish, sell reels and rods to happy customers and host tournaments for fisherman from across the area.

"If there's not a customer the entire day, I still have the best view in town," Copeland said.

However, Copeland said he can't imagine how he could have avoided this.

The Army Corps of Engineers has given him an ultimatum.

"The whole storefront would have to come off. There would be no access from the front whatsoever," Copeland said.

The corps has decided that 10 feet of Copeland's building sits on the corps' property, even though the property markers were established in 1957, Copeland bought the land in 1986 and built his new building in 2000.

That's not all. The corps inspected the plans in 1999 and inspected the building in 2000 and again in 2006.

But, now, the corps has pulled out a different property map that no one had seen before - and wasn't on file anywhere - that showed Flippers Bait & Tackle on corps land.

"No one said a word about a new boundary line or that anything had been changed. No one has ever been notified. It's my firm belief the corps never knew it had been changed themselves," Copeland said.

The corps plans to build a fence that would separate the Flippers property from the water.

"In 32 years I have survived depressions and recessions and floods - anything you could imagine - and this is going to take us out of business," Copeland said.

In a statement, Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Bill Peoples said Friday:

"It is the Corps' position that our 1984 survey is correct and remains our official boundary line. When possible, it is the Corps' policy to require the removal of structures on government-owned property. When infeasible, as claimed by Mr. Copeland, the Corps typically offers to lease the encroachment area or license the area to the encroaching party."

That offer to lease the property is news to Copeland, and he said he accepts the compromise.

We will follow up and make sure these promises are kept.

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