Sevier County one step closer to zoning
Sevier County residents witnessed a drama-packed, agonizingly close, last-second decision Monday night, though the action was at the Sevier County Commission meeting rather than in a football stadium. A land usage zoning resolution hung in the balance of a 12-12 tie, when County Executive Larry Waters broke the big play with a decision making “yes” vote and put the county one baby step closer to zoning regulations.
The original agenda item called for a vote on a resolution dealing with both land usage and a storm water phase two resolution as one related planning item.
Though the land usage resolution was strictly a step calling for the Planning Office to put together a proposal for the committee to consider, it was a sticking point for commissioners.
Storm water phase two is a water drainage plan to deal with erosion and top soil loss that the county is forced to comply with due to the increased building in the county in recent years and the resulting loss of drainage. Non-compliance would bring a stiff fine of $10,000 a day.
Fearing the drainage resolution would not pass and the county would be headed towards compliance problems by delaying, 6th District Commissioner Bill Oakes pulled out the trick play and moved for a division of the two measures forcing a separate vote on zoning.
The roll call vote stayed close and initially ended 11-12-1 when the abstaining voter Commissioner Woods changed his vote to a yes, bring the vote to a 12-12 tie. The 25th member, Commissioner Jim Dykes, missed the meeting due to illness, setting the stage for Waters’ tie-breaking vote. “This is not a vote for a zoning plan, this is a vote for the Planning Office to put together a proposed plan for this county,” said Waters before breaking the deadlock with a “yes” vote and allowing the resolution to pass.
Seymour Commissioners were equally split with Ray Godfrey and Oakes voting for the resolution and Commissioners Marty Hamilton, Buster Norton and Jim Keener recorded as voting against.
Said Godfrey,” I knew it would be close and it was within one vote of where I thought it would be.”
With the passage of the resolution, the County Planning Office led by David Taylor will begin preparing a plan to bring back to the Commission for approval and implementation. The task will take a year or more according to Taylor, who plans on a multi-step process. The first step will be a countywide inventory, which will require borrowing maps from various utility companies so the Planning Office can create a compilation picture of the County’s current land use. Taylor then intends to hold numerous community meetings across Sevier County along with various other measures to gauge what county residents want in their land usage plan.
After the highlight of the land usage debate, the mandated storm water phase two resolution sailed through on a unanimous vote. Taylor will be working with McGill and Associates to bring that proposal back to the County Commission for approval before the June 7th deadline. The County will then have 5 years to enact the plan according to Taylor.
The Herald attempted to contact Sixth District County Commissioner Marty Hamilton for a quote on this story and one other related matter. When we called her business offices we were told “We never want to hear from you again. Don’t call back!” We found this odd behavior for a public official, and can only wonder why she chooses not to speak to The Herald on matters of public record that affect all Seymour residents.