Ordinance puts sprinklers in future rentals

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 11:57 PM

The Gatlinburg City Commission approved the first reading of an ordinance to require newly constructed dwellings on the Tourist Residency Program to have a sprinkler system, making all new rental cabins a little safer for visitors to the area.

“This is just good for safety and the perception of being progressive and safe for our guests,” Mayor Mike Werner said.

The ordinance does not pertain to existing dwellings because, Werner said, “there were several different people in the rental business and real estate business that expressed concern that it would pertain to existing construction.”

“Say some people just used the unit for half a year and put it back on rental program, then they would still have to sprinkle,” Werner said. “They thought that was too strict and would inhibit some people who owned rental property and wanted to take the property off a rental program for a period of time.”

So the code was reworded to pertain only to Tourist Residency dwellings constructed after March 1, 2013.

“It’s easier to install and probably cheaper this way,” Werner said. “It’s not grandfathering the old properties but I think it’s a good balance and a good compromise to make it pertain to new construction.”

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said the new code will be good for the city in terms of fire safety.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a loss of life in a sprinkler building, so I think this is something that’s coming down the pipe that will help more with fire safety and fire preventions,” Miller said.

The commission also approved an in-lieu of property tax contract for the Sevier County Electric System.

The commission deferred several items on the agenda until the next meeting, including a Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Quarterly Report, as well as items related to setting appointments with the Environmental Design Review Board, the Municipal Board of Zoning Appeals and the Regional Board of Zoning Appeals.

The items were deferred due to a 7 p.m. funeral service for Fred W. McMahan, former mayor and vice mayor of the city.

rhargett@themountainpress.com