A group of District One residents and other county residents — 13 total—has signed a formal complaint “against the Sevier County Mayor, Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners,” alleging ethical violations surrounding a zoning classification for one particular property owner.
County Planner David Taylor maintains that the zoning classification for a certain Webb Mountain development was handled the same as other property classification processes, and that adequate opportunity for public comment was allowed.
A copy of the complaint was delivered to District Attorney Al Schmutzer’s office Wednesday morning, with copies provided to various news outlets, public officials, and others.
The complaint contends that residents who attended public meetings regarding the zoning maps were told by Planning Commission Chair Jack McMahan “that everything in the district will be zoned A1 – Agricultural.”
The complaint also questions why this was later changed to accommodate a 1,865-acre property, for which a developer has proposed a major development. The signers of the complaint allege ethical violations, as the decision to classify the property as C-2 – General Commercial was allegedly conducted without opportunity for public comment.
Taylor responded to this allegation, saying decisions in this respect were based on recommendations from an established committee, set up to guide the zoning implementation process.
“There were absolutely no secret meetings,” said Taylor “The accusation by Mr. Wilson is totally false and he has no facts to substantiate that.”
Taylor said zoning maps showing the Webb Mountain property as C-2 were reviewed by the Planning Commission earlier this month. Webb Mountain was not discussed at that meeting by the planning commissioners, nor by meeting attendees.
“There are several areas that are C-2 that I personally object to. But, that is the wishes of the community, the wishes of the committee,” Taylor said.
Schmutzer spoke with The Herald Wednesday morning, and confirmed he had received the complaint. “I have reviewed the complaint and, on its face, there appears to be no criminal violation,” he said. “I have attempted to contact one of the letter signers to see if additional facts are involved before making a formal ruling. I can only initiate a formal investigation if there’s factual basis for a violation of criminal law.”