Pigeon Forge planners OK Ripken site plan

Apr. 23, 2014 @ 11:05 PM

The Pigeon Forge Regional Planning Commission unanimously approved the site plan for the Ripken Experience at its meeting Tuesday afternoon. The youth baseball complex is being designed by Barge Waggoner, through a previously arranged agreement with the city. The final design should be finished by next month.

“These fields will use synthetic turf, so there will be no rain outs — as soon as the rain stops they can get back out on the field,” Steve Fritz of Barge Waggoner said at the meeting. “All six fields are themed after a minor or major league field.”

In addition to the six differently sized fields that will accommodate youth baseball and softball teams of varying ages, the complex will include a video room for training, in which teams will be able to watch footage from practices and games.

Webcams are to be at each field, so family members who can’t attend games will be able to watch online.

“One cool thing: The kids can pick their favorite song, and it gets downloaded into the system,” Fritz said. “Then when they come up to bat, their own theme song will be playing.”

Fritz declined to comment on a target date for the completion and opening of the facility.

“I think it would be best for that to come from Eric (Brackins, assistant city manager) and the city administration,” he said.

The planning commission also approved the rezoning of several sets of property for the county planning staff from R-1 rural residential to R-2 high density residential, including approximately 58 acres on Black Bear Ridge. In March 2013, a massive fire consumed about 160 acres at Black Bear Ridge.

The structures that are already in place on the properties are appropriate for an R-2 zoning, and this rezoning would essentially match the zoning with the structures, Community Development Director David Taylor said at the meeting.

“When we first looked at this, we were concerned, because we’ve had some issues, some fires here in the past,” Taylor said. “We did not want new developments to increase the density here. Looking at what (county planning staffers) are doing, we don’t see that happening, so we have no issues with any of the sites (of rezoning).”

These locations also were approved for rezoning:

  • Bear Creek Crossing, approximately 55 acres, multiple units, tax map 082B, Parcel 1.00, South New Era Road
  • Parkside Resort, approximately 35 acres, multiple units, tax map 105 Parcel 12.00, Little Cove Road
  • Wild Briar, tax map 96A B Parcels 1.00-40.00, 1.01 and 40.01, Wild Briar Trail
  • Sherwood Forrest, approximately 60 acres, multiple units, tax map 105L B Parcel 1.00, Rush Branch Road.

In other business, the planning commission approved the following:

  • Final PUD plan of the Island in Pigeon Forge, Phase III, 250 Island Drive. This will introduce 60 new parking spots devoted to the new hotel opening at the Island
  • Alpine Campground, revised site plan, Spring Valley Road
  • Goats On The Roof & Mountain Adventure Park, revised site plan, Wears Valley Road. The owners of the theme park had about five acres of adjoining property recently rezoned to become part of the new site plan, which includes a new ride and 48 new parking spots

The planning commission also approved these special events:

  • Pigeon Forge Police Department - Safety Day, April 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Walgreens, corner of Jake Thomas and Parkway
  • Parkway Mission of Hope — yard sale to benefit mission, April 25-26 and May 2-3, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • American Cancer Society — Sevier County Relay For Life 5K, June 7, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Patriot Park
  • Brittney Carr fundraiser — (Parking Area), April 4, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Old Mill Avenue
  • Tennessee Education Technology Association — Summer Institute 2014, July 8, 7-10 a.m., Patriot Park
  • Jesus Tent Rally — Youth Event, Riverbend Campground (2479 Riverbend Loop), July 9-12
  • Endurance Sports Management — Double Dip Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 23, Pigeon Forge Community Center and surrounding area.

After the meeting, the Board of Zoning Appeals approved an interpretation of sign ordinance and square footage of wall signs for Today’s Generation at 3370 Parkway. The sign in question was an alligator statue at the entrance of the building.

Because no one was present to represent them, the two miscellaneous requests on the agenda, both requests for a temporary use permit, were postponed until the next meeting.

jold@themountainpress.com