Parties disagree on prior water-supply arrangement
Pigeon Forge city officials denied a request from a local developer to cover the costs of extending adequate water pressure to future developments in the Bluff Mountain area despite the owner’s contention that the city had already agreed to supply the water, nearly eight years ago.
Much of the push for this extension of city water services came from developer Gary Fields, who was in the process of purchasing 390 acres of the Blalock’s Bluff Mountain property for the purpose of building an up-scale, single-family housing development.
“I’m fearful of the outcome of this meeting,” said Fields. “We will not close on this deal today unless this agreement is honored,” said Fields, reiterating his interpretation of the agreement that the city ensure both water supply and adequate water pressure, and cover the costs of building pump stations and storage tanks for Bluff Mountain developments.
In a deal dating back to March 1998, BS & J Enterprises negotiated with the city to provide water supply for future development in this area. BS & J (short for Brian, Sid and Jim Blalock) owns approximately 7,000 acres in the Bluff Mountain area.
The disagreement concerns the extent to which Pigeon Forge is obligated to supply this water. Owner Sid Blalock contends that the agreement was that the city would supply water for the entire 7,000-acre property. Pigeon Forge officials, on the other hand, say that the city had neither physical capacity nor the legal jurisdiction to promise water to parts of this property, as much of it lies outside of the city’s planning region.
“Blalock believes that we were supposed to supply water to the whole 7,000 acres,” said city attorney Jim Gass. “That is not my opinion—we did not have the ability to supply water to an area of that size,” said Gass.
“At the time, a line was extended to McMahan Sawmill Road,” said city attorney Jim Gass. “It is my opinion of the city’s intention at the time that they were going to provide adequate pressure at the end of the line, and I think that’s been accomplished,” said Gass.
In the end, city commissioners voted for a motion to supply water to the area, but that the developer would have to build the water lines and the needed pumps and storage tanks.
The decision prompted an angry response from Fields: “the city is making a very big, bad decision. This deal will not close today. I can’t imagine why the city is not honoring this agreement.” Fields then abruptly left the meeting room.