The proposed sports complex on North Knob Creek Road has been dealt another blow in a series of controversies surrounding the Optimist Club's attempt to build baseball fields in a residential area.
In a letter dated May 21, 2007, the Sevier County Road Superintendent Jonas Smelcer was informed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that the property on Knob Creek road was altered without the proper permits and authorization. Responding to a complaint by a citizen, the property was inspected and several violations were found. Inspection of the site revealed that a stream crossing had been installed and that the county failed to obtain coverage under the Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit (ARAP). The TDEC office went on to inform Smelcer that any future projects of similar nature would need to be permitted prior to putting the road crossings in place as failure to do so is in violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Act.
The Herald spoke with Smelcer in the November 14, 2006 issue regarding this project. At the time there were trees that had been cut in half and several of the cuttings were still in the creek bed. "We got a call to mow and cut back the brush along N Knob Creek Road and even though it wasn't a road project, we always try to assist residents with improving community projects that are county property," stated Smelcer at the time. "The wanted the brush cut to aid visibility."
Commissioner Buster Norton who was instrumental in helping the Optimist Club obtain a twenty-year lease for the North Knob Creek property, denied that the county was responsible for the changes in the land at a meeting with North Knob Creek Community (NKCC), but was corrected by Judy Godfrey who stated that it was indeed the county who was responsible. When asked who requested the project, Smelcer stated that it was the county commission who contacted his office. "Buster Norton was the one who asked us to clear that creek and put the tile in" Smelcer said.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.