Over the past year or so it has become apparent that the zoning laws that were enacted by Sevier County Government are a farce.  In what can be only be described as a puppet office for the commissioners and developers, the planning commission has failed miserably in their duties.

In looking at the situation as a whole, residents in Wears Valley, Seymour, Jones Cove and Boyds Creek have repeatedly voiced their objections to the development going on in their communities.  These objections have fallen on deaf ears, which makes one wonder who is running the planning office.  The county planner is Jeff Ownby who came to the county with experience.  However on his watch he has allowed communities and neighborhoods to be overrun with unnecessary development.  He continues to rezone without posting notification and he continues to show favoritism to certain developers by allowing them to do whatever they want to do.

Case in point is the recent rezoning of land on Knob Creek Road in Seymour.  This once beautiful farm land has been purchased by one developer from Seymour.  This developer overpaid for the land and the only way to recoup his potential losses is to build multi-family units on this land.  In order to do so he needed to have land rezoned from a A-1 or R-1 designation to a R-2.  For clarification, this is taking land from an Agricultural designation or a single family dwelling to a multiple family dwelling.  Thus instead of houses, the residents of this area will be getting condominiums or apartments.  This is pure greed.

Where is the planning in this?  Why is Mr. Ownby not doing his job.  The answer is simple.  There are too many commissioners who are builders, contractors or developers.  They also sit on the planning commission thus making their own rules.  This is not only against the ethics set forth by the State but it is also to the detriment of the County as a whole.

Seymour does not need more housing.  It does not need condos and apartments.  We have an aging school system that cannot accommodate any more children.  Yet what Jeff Ownby has allowed for is nearly 1000 family units in a one-mile stretch of N. Knob Creek Road.  Where are those kids going to go to school.  Better yet, where are our kids going to go to school?  Commissioners Norton and Godfrey who are elected to look out for the interest of this community continue to vote along with their fellow commissioners and do not stand up for placing a moratorium on building until we can effectively plan the community.

Planning a community should be done based on need not on greed.  As long as we maintain our silence we will be overrun by the developers who sit on the county commission.

Here is some solutions to the problem.  First and foremost, the planning commission cannot be made up of commissioners.  It needs to be made up of citizens who will send recommendations to the commission.  Secondly all rezoning efforts need to be posted.  Not just in the Sevierville paper but to the residents that are affected.

 Finally, there needs to be a moratorium on the development in Seymour.  We do not have space in the schools, on the roads nor are we experiencing the demand for the new homes.  Spec homes are sitting empty because developers and builders over estimated their value.  If the county commission refused to put such moratorium on developing in Seymour then at the very least they need to put a $1,000 per acre fee to developers and $10 per square foot fee to builders.  That money would go directly to the development of schools, roads etc.  That is not unreasonable considering that our school kids are being turned into hucksters, constantly trying to sell something to raise money so their classroom can have supplies.  Where are the priorities here?  They are certainly not with the community however the developers seem to be making out just fine.

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