To head off a possible loophole that would come once county zoning goes into effect, the Pigeon Forge Board of Commissioners has passed on first reading a ordinance that prohibits heliports within the city limits.
Pigeon Forge City Attorney, Jim Gass explained the need for the ordinance to the commissioners at their Monday night meeting: “The reason that we bring this ordinance before the board is, in the original state act that’s been in place a number of years prohibiting heliport existence in certain areas of Sevier and Blount counties, there is a caveat that once the implementation of county-wide zoning takes effect it could impact that ordinance as to the ability of a heliport to operate within certain areas.”
State law, however, allows for cities and towns within tourist resort counties to implement their own regulations, which may be equal or more stringent than state law.
“This is equal to the state law and very much tracks the same definitions and language that state law does,” said Gass.
The ordinance does allow for exceptions in the case of heliports to be established for health care institutions as defined by state law, or if a helicopter “makes a landing required by an emergency,” according to the ordinance.
“This oridinance simply exercises the city’s authority to post some regulations, as well,” Gass said.
The Pigeon Forge Planning Commission voted on a separate proposal to amend Article 7 of the city’s zoning ordinance, which would borrow much of the same language, at their monthly meeting Tuesday night.
Commissioners approved the ordinance with little discussion, following Gass’s explanation.
“It looks like medical is covered in Section 1 and that’s the only question I had,” said Commissioner Kevin McClure.