By Ben Lawson
After three years and numerous possible locations, the county Operations Committee voted Tuesday to look into purchasing land on Bell Chapel Lane for the site of a new convenience center.
The decision came after a meeting with residents from the area around Old Sevierville Pike that was at times contentious. Several people argued that building a waste site in a residential area would attract everything from pests to sexual predators, plus put the community’s children in danger from increased traffic. One man spoke in favor of letting the committee choose the best possible site, but most seemed against that location being Bell Chapel.
Chairman Bill Oakes put pressure on the committee to make a decision after so many delays and false starts.
“We need to move on,” he said. “We’ve been doing this a long time.”
Oakes stressed that time was now working against them. The county’s contract to use Floyd’s Market has only 50 days remaining, at which time they would be forced into a longer contract or the site would close. Assistant County Mayor Greg Patterson echoed Oakes’ call for action.
“If something isn’t done in those 50 days, we’ll have to figure out how to accommodate the community,” he said.
The commissioners responded to the residents’ arguments that they had heard the same complaints levied against every site they had considered and that no location would please everyone.
Other factors were cited, too, including the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s rejection of the land beside Flower’s Bakery unless the county pays for a turn lane on Chapman Highway. The space on Macon Lane had been met by stiff opposition from businesses.
As to the traffic situation, Oakes said they were well aware of the road conditions on Old Sevierville Pike. One resident pointed out how narrow Bell Chapel Lane was and asked if it would be widened.
“I would think that would have to be done,” Oakes responded.
Ultimately, a motion was made to move ahead with Bell Chapel as a potential site. The motion passed with one commissioner opposed and one abstaining. Some of the residents vowed to fight on.
The next step will be discussing a price with the land’s owner. The budget committee will have to approve the purchase before the motion will be taken before the full commission to be voted on.
Anyone interested in voicing opinions for or against the site must contact the mayor’s office to be added to the commission’s agenda for the meeting.
Committee Moves Ahead on Site
By Ben Lawson