That age-old saying is true. History repeats itself. Apparently Sevier County did not learn from the past. During the early half of the twentieth century, logging companies were ravaging our beautiful mountains of their precious bounty of virgin timber. The Great Smoky Mountains were once mostly barren of trees from the massive, uncontrolled logging that took place.
Now this is happening again. Thankfully the government has regulated the logging industry. The new problem we face is developers. They have realized that Sevier County is unregulated; we have no zoning. All we can do is watch as the beautiful farmland and forests we have grown to love painfully fall victim to the overwhelming financial power of developers. The small roads like McCleary or North Knob Creek in Seymour, which were once country roads, now lead to many new residential subdivisions. Much in the way logging companies acted, developers will argue for the great “economic benefits” they allege their industry produces. These benefits are actually quite small, should they even exist. However, it is costing the taxpayers to maintain these roads that were not designed for such heavy use and to constantly expand our already overcrowded school buildings. Zoning gives the power back to the people instead of big business. I ask those in opposition to zoning, including my own county commissioners who voted against it, why do we not need zoning?
I am not against growth. I welcome the many wonderful newcomers to our area. However without zoning the growth is too widespread and rampant for Sevier County to handle. Anyone who attempts to dispute this claim should drive down some of the once-quiet back roads of our county and see what has happened. I have been raised on a farm here. This farm is one of the largest left in the county, and developers are poised to take it away from us. Already the many farms that surrounded us just a few years ago have turned into subdivisions, creating large amounts of traffic and maintenance problems on our small road. I hope to find a way to save the land I was raised on. Unfortunately the developers have the money to buy it, I don’t… yet.
Already Sevier County is looked upon by other places as being “behind the times” because we don’t have zoning. I worry how history will look upon Sevier County.
Speaking from my heart – not my wallet,
Aaron B Caton
Lifelong Sevier County Resident
and Direct Descendant of One of Sevier County’s First Families