A theme emerges in development meetings

Loudon County Commissioners Bill Satterfield, from left, Van Shaver and Adam Waller listen to an audience member during a public meeting Nov. 16 at Greenback School.

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}