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A theme emerges in development meetings

Local residents turned out Nov. 16 for another meeting on what Loudon County should do with planned unit development regulations.

The county planning and zoning study committee, comprised of Commissioners Adam Waller and Van Shaver, hosted the meeting in the Greenback School cafeteria. Commissioner Bill Satterfield was also present.

Over the course of 90 minutes, residents learned about and expressed concerns on PUDs. While acknowledging growth is inevitable, attendees agreed that efforts should be in place to regulate sprawl.

“They’re like the other two meetings, we’ve had three so far,” Satterfield said. “The people that have attended do not want massive growth, they don’t want to look like Hardin Valley or west Knoxville. They want to try and preserve what we can, but with the realization we know we’re going to have some growth, there’s not going to be zero growth. So our plan is to try to manage it, know it’s coming, and try to not let it get away from us and be overdeveloped.”

Attendees spoke of the potential strain on schools, utilities, public services and roads should the population grow too fast. One resident also expressed fear of creating a vicious cycle — if enough new residents move in, they could become a majority and vote against any later attempts to manage the county’s growth.

After three meetings, Shaver said the message could not be clearer.

“It’s overwhelmingly what you heard tonight,” Shaver said. “People are certainly in favor of not overdeveloping Loudon County, I mean it’s 99%. The ones that have held a different view are generally those that are in the business, developers, Realtors, folks like that that have a vested interest in it. But your rank and file property owners, everybody wants to preserve Loudon County.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}“They like the rural-ness of Loudon County, they like the country feel of Loudon County,” he added. “Everything that everybody loves about it, they want to preserve.”{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}The meetings were scheduled after Loudon County Commission passed a six-month moratorium on PUDs on Oct. 4, with the option to extend the ban further. The decision came in the wake of vocal opposition to a developer’s rezoning request, which was turned down prior to the moratorium but is facing litigation.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}“There’s a request made to rezone 78 acres on (U.S. Highway) 321 down here, just inside Loudon County, with a PUD, which would allow them to build 194 houses,” Shatterfield said. “And the people who live there, in the Greendale area, to a person were opposed to it. We already met with them but met with them again, they didn’t want it, nobody wanted it. Even though the zoning commission approved it, the commission turned it down. So we’re being sued in chancery court, saying that we didn’t have grounds to deny the zone request.”{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}The lawsuit is not expected to go to court until April.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}Greenback Mayor Dewayne Birchfield said he came to see where residents stood and to learn about the matter.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}“This PUD, I just kind of didn’t know about that, what was really going on, and my being the mayor up here I got to learn all this stuff,” Birchfield said. “It’s a learning process every day, and there’s a lot, but the thing I try to do in Greenback is get the information out to the people, which they’ve never had. And we’re getting it out, and that’s why I want to know about this here.”{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}Birchfield also expressed concern over uncontrolled growth. He said he was particularly wary of the effect it could have on taxes, since a tax increase would be the only way to accommodate the additional needs of a larger community.{/span}

{p class=”p1”}{span class=”s1”}A date and time is not determined for the next meeting but is expected to be in the third district around Dec. 1.{/span}

Good Sam fills critical holiday need
  • Updated

Before getting underway Saturday in the St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church parking lot in Lenoir City, Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County volunteers paused to pray over the opportunity to serve.

As usual, the annual Thanksgiving basket distribution started earlier than the scheduled time of 9 a.m. because cars were lining up.

“They love doing this project,” Cindy Black, Good Sam executive director, said of volunteers. “Everybody wants to do something special at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this we know is helping our clients. These are people that they see, and a lot of people you get coming to these things are just random off the street, but for us at the Good Samaritan Center they’ve come to us, they’re our clients and this is something that every family deserves.

“We know that we’re giving out good food, we know that we’re giving out some good canned food, some pies and rolls and canned foods and then their certificate to Food City,” she added. “It’s just so important because it is a time of giving and a time of thanks.”

Clients received stuffing, pie crust and filling, gravy mix, canned vegetables and rolls. They were also given a $15 Food City gift certificate for vegetables or meat and a pack of toilet paper, which was donated days before by Tate & Lyle.

“For many people, they don’t have a meal like this all the time,” Black said. “They’re doing fast food, they’re doing just what they’ve got in their cabinet and this is a cohesive meal, it can be, if they take this home and it’s a full meal that when you see pictures of Thanksgiving and a family around a table, this is what they can have. ... Everybody deserves that.”

Including the baskets given this week to Loudon clients, Black said Good Sam would distribute 370 vouchers.

“It’s been up to around 500 in years past and ... even last year when it was one of the first things we really did as a big group in COVID, I think we gave out more vouchers at that time,” Black said. “I don’t know why, maybe everybody’s doing better.”

In the days leading up to the distribution, volunteers packed 1,000 boxes within five days, Evelyn Edwards, Good Sam pantry manager, said. She estimated 15,000 pounds of food were ready to be given out.

“This is really exciting,” Edwards said. “We started last year instead of putting all the boxes and the bags together here, I’ve changed it over to Good Samaritan to load and do this. All we have to do is load the van up and load the truck up and then get it all out here. It’s 100% better.”

Edwards said she enjoys the annual day spent helping those who need help the most.

Following retirement, Mary Ann Blank has volunteered at Good Sam for eight years and in one way or another has had a hand in the distribution.

“You can see the appreciation on everyone’s face as they come through and just the ‘happy Thanksgiving and God bless you.’ It’s just a wonderful thing,” Blank said.

Sue Suter has volunteered 10 years and the distribution has become a Thanksgiving tradition. She helped hand out rolls.

“I don’t have a family so I don’t really have community, so this few minutes of time to just be with somebody else, in the moment with somebody else, sharing Thanksgiving with somebody else in this manner is just (great),” Suter said. “The people are just so thankful and it’s just the feeling of connecting for those few minutes with somebody. This is how I celebrate my Thanksgiving because I don’t have a family. This is my tradition to do this every year.”