Resolution Creators Want ‘Smart Growth’
By CRAIG MINTZ
Staff Writer – The Mountain Press
WEARS VALLEY – A community group advocating stricter controls on local development will present a resolution this month to local officials that would do just that on Sevier County mountains and hillsides.
Friends of Wears Valley, which began in 2005 over concern about development of Cove Mountain, will meet Thursday to discuss the resolution before presenting it to the Sevier County Regional Planning Commission and the Sevier County Commission.
“We know that there’s going to be development,” said John Meyers, a board member for Friends of Wears Valley. “We just want it to be smart growth.”
The resolution, called the “Sevier County Mountain and Hillside Protection Resolution,” is patterned after an almost identical resolution that was passed in November in White County, Ga., Meyers said. White County includes Helen, a popular tourist attraction made to look like a Bavarian village.
The extensive document outlines regulations that limit alteration of landscape and generally seek to protect ridge lines, steep slopes, trees and vegetation; prevent soil erosion; control stormwater runoff; and set building guidelines.
The resolution would also require all Sevier County developments with more than 30 acres to conduct a “comprehensive evaluation of environmental impact on the site as well as the surrounding areas.”
“We would like to see the Planning Commission work these guidelines into the existing (subdivision) guidelines,” Meyers said.
Meyers said he has talked to Ron Ogle, one of the local developers of Cove Mountain, about the resolution.
Ogle deferred comment on the resolution to his attorney, Brad Beaty. Beaty said he had not had an opportunity to review the resolution as of Friday afternoon, but said the development group welcomes “anybody who loves that mountain as much as we do” to talk to the developers about it.
Beaty said the development group was spending a lot of time, money and resources to plan a premier development that protects the beauty and environment of Cove Mountain.
After reviewing the resolution, Sevier County Planner David Taylor said it has some good guidelines that local planning commissioners may want to consider.
“It seems like Sevier County and White County (Ga.) have a lot of the same challenges,” he said.
While the challenges may be similar, the means to address them differ between the two counties, Taylor said. White County already has zoning ordinances and building codes through which officials can enforce the resolution, he said.
Sevier County currently only has subdivision regulations and officials are working to finish zoning maps so approved zoning ordinances can be implemented.