County moving to market new industrial park site

14-11 County Commission vote paves way for land purchase
Feb. 20, 2013 @ 01:48 PM

The Sevier County Economic Development Council is wasting little time in working on marketing materials for a new industrial park, but is still weeks away from closing on a 115-acre property after County Commission approved its purchase Monday night.

The commission voted 14-11 to purchase land owned by former Commissioner Kenneth Whaley for about $7.5 million. EDC Director Allen Newton said Tuesday staff members were preparing marketing information to put on their website.

“We’ve tried to hit the ground running,” he said. “We’re excited we’ve got something to show now, where before we had a very difficult time getting people interested in our community because we didn’t own any of the property.”

The land is north of Interstate 40 on Snyder Road, meaning industrial traffic will go in the opposite direction from tourists using the county’s only interstate exit. That was one of the draws for Whaley’s property.

He had also agreed to a price that was lower than its last appraised value, and agreed to build a road bed and grade the property to the county’s specifications.

It’s also near existing utility lines, meaning the county won’t face major expenses in running the lines out to the property.

The commission had been set to vote on the purchase at its December meeting, but delayed after some commissioners asked to take a more detailed look at other tracts that might be available for industrial use.

The measure passed Monday with little discussion, despite the split vote.

While there’s not a timetable yet for when the property will be ready, Newton said he hopes they can close on the purchase agreement within 45 days.

The land is split by Snyder Road, with about 30 acres on one side and 115 acres on the other. About 85 acres out of the 115 will be usable, Newton said ­— slopes streams and other issues on the remaining land make it difficult to develop.

They won’t start splitting it into lots until they find out what prospective industries might have in mind.

“We don’t necessarily draw lot lines because you never know what somebody’s going to need,” he said.

Also Monday, the commission:

Appointed Carroll McMahan to be the new county historian

Reappointed members to the E911 Board of Directors

Reappointed members for the Sevier County Tourism CommitteeRezoned property in the 1100 block of Douglas Dam Road from agricultural use to rural commercial use

 jfarrell@themountainpress.com