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Waffle House planned for Wears Valley Road

PIGEON FORGE — The city could soon get a second Waffle House, this time on Wears Valley Road.

The city planning commission will review a site plan for a new restaurant at 249 Wears Valley Road, on an undeveloped lot alongside an AutoZone store.

The city already has one of the 24-hour diners, located on the Parkway near Connor Hill Motor Lodge.

The commission meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

The commission will also consider final plans for the 162-room Compass Hotel planned for 125 Music Mountain Drive, and a plan for 31 new cabins in a development on Sequoia Road.

Two developers have requests to rezone property in the city — Ayers/Davis Properties have asked to rezone two parcels at 2350 Henderson Springs Road for high density residential use, and Pigeon Falls LLC has asked to rezone 25 acres on Jake Thomas Road into a mixed use commercial district.

The commission will also review some items in the planning region — the area outside the city that the planning commission can review — including a plan for Gon Ridin Off Road, at 818 Mill Creek Road.

Herbert Holt renovations move forward
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GATLINBURG — Gatlinburg is moving forward with renovations at Herbert Holt Park.

The city approved a contract with Whaley & Sons Construction at their meeting Tuesday. Officials said Whaley & Sons was the low bidder, and the contract amount is $1,490,821.

The scope of the Herbert Holt Park Improvements Project consists of stabilization of the riverbank and picnic area above to stop further erosion, provide access to the river from two new sets of steps and renovating the existing ADA ramp leading to the William ‘Bill’ Stevens handicap access fishing pier; renovations of the restroom and pavilion area; removal and replacement of existing paths, removal of the existing playground and new equipment installed; parking and traffic flow improvements; and fencing and landscaping around the playground area.

Work is anticipated to be completed within 180 days of its start.

The company was also low bidder on the Holly Branch Drainage Improvement project at a cost of $449,092. That work is expected to take 60 days.

“This Project scope includes removing 230 feet of culvert and pipe and restoring Holly Branch to an open stream, replacing 360 of pipe and replacing a failing retaining wall supporting a section of Ski Mountain Road adjacent to the stream,” Gatlinburg spokesman Seth Butler said.

Sevier County's choirs to perform at annual showcase March 6
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Music lovers can celebrate the talents of Sevier County’s young performers once again with the Fifth Annual Sevier County Choral Showcase on Monday, March 6.

The performances begin at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Sevierville’s main sanctuary. The event is free to the public.

“Choirs from each high school in Sevier County participate and each choir from each school performs one to two songs,” said Nathan Rhea, Sevier County High School Choral Director. “High school choirs are either performing their competition pieces or pieces from their upcoming spring shows.”

Gatlinburg-Pittman High School’s concert choir and a men’s ensemble will perform. Northview Senior Academy will have performances by a women’s ensemble and concert choir.

Pigeon Forge will have their concert/show choir, and Sevier County High School will have its concert choir, women’s choir and the combined choir will perform “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” from the school’s upcoming Choral Review of Disney’s “Aladdin.”

Seymour High School will have their concert choir, treble choir, men’s ensemble and an a cappella group called Reagan Harmonix.

The showcase is a great opportunity for these music-loving teens to enjoy each other’s talents and share a good time of fellowship.

“The teachers have emphasized from the beginning of this event that this is not a competition but a showcase of the choral program at the high school level here in Sevier County,” Rhea said.

Former SCHS Choir Director, the late Peg Welch, championed to have this event started before she retired, but the event didn’t happen until 2018, Rhea said.

Former Seymour Choral Director, retired Jean Burkart, worked to bring the event to realization in honor of Welch.

Rhea said the inspiration also came from the band programs, because the school system already had an All-County Band Night for many years.

“We wanted to have an event that brought all the high school choirs together to perform at one singular event. Jean worked alongside myself and the other directors for ideas to make this event a reality,” Rhea said.

The first event was held at First Baptist in Seymour in March 2018, with every other showcase being at First Baptist in Sevierville.

Rhea said he and Burkhart also came up with the idea of inviting college professors to attend to provide insight to the singers, similar to the upcoming J.B. Lyle Choral Festival. Expanding on that this year, more professors are invited and set up a college fair in the foyer prior to the event from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Rhea said Burkhart continues to assist with the college side despite her retirement, and they have had professors from ETSU, UT, Walters State, Carson-Newman, Maryville College, UT-Chattanooga and Tennessee-Wesleyan.

“Jean and I, along with Northview Academy director Cindel Reed, really have championed having the college aspect a part of our showcase because it serves several purposes,” Rhea said.

First, it gives students an opportunity to meet staff from the school of music at a particular college. Second, it provides the professors the opportunities to hear the talent of Sevier County students, and finally, it is invaluable to the high school directors to make those connections with the professors for valuable feedback and recruitment opportunities.

“Basically this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our students’ talents but also provides them with an opportunity to make a connection and get noticed by the college professors,” Rhea said.

The school directors include: Bobbi Watson, Gatlinburg-Pittman; interim director Paul Davis (filling in for Cindel Reed) at Northview; Pam Russell, Pigeon Forge; Rhea and accompanist Denis Morris, SCHS; and Andrea Gantte and assistant Christi Glovak, Seymour.

Pittman Center moves to establish critical slope floating zone
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PITTMAN CENTER — The Town of Pittman Center is a step closer to updates to building permit regulations and updates to further prohibit billboards.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed first reading of an ordinance that would create a critical slope floating zone and accompanying regulations and enhance building permit regulations. Pittman Center will likely consider a second reading of the ordinance at their next meeting.

The town currently does not have a critical slope ordinance, officials said. The ordinance would protect scenic views and the aesthetics of the town. The ordinance defines a critical slope as an area consisting of a natural 30% slope or greater, determined by a licensed engineer or surveyor.

We’re requiring a higher degree of preparation and planning for development to prevent clear-cutting and to help preserve specimen trees with the intent to avoid unnecessary impact from hillside development on steep slopes, Town Administrator Tammy Watts Rochester said.

Some of the proposed regulations in the critical slope zone include: disturbance shall not exceed 25% of the development or lot area; utilities to be installed below ground; post construction impervious area shall not exceed 15% of lot area; soil maps and test borings shall identify areas suspected of containing acid rock and avoided and where encountered capped and sealed to avoid percolation; and all developments shall provide post construction screening of 75% during leaf-on conditions as viewed from federal, state and county highways, and if not screened 75% use mitigation measures.

Other regulations include construction, such as how buildings should be built into or stepped into the hillside and not pushed out, up and/or away from topography and also requirements on lighting and colors used in those areas.

Vice Mayor Kevin Howard expressed some reservations about the ordinance, in particular making recommendations about the clearing for view and how he has seen some developers try and work around that issue by cutting the tops of trees.

“We need to watch for people who try that little trick who loop them off at 40 feet knowing they are going to die. It looks awful. I’d rather see the trees on the ground,” he said.

Familiar with landscaping, he also wasn’t sure about the ability of developers to meet some of the growth plans for planting vegetation to provide a minimum 75% screening. Part of the plan calls for land that has been forested to require a reforestation or landscape plan that will achieve 75% screening within a reasonable amount of time.

He also noted the ordinance requires native plant species to be used, but he said those species often take longer to start growing.

In addition to addressing a critical slope floating zone, the town also added billboards to an existing ordinance that prohibits off-premise signs.

The town’s ordinance prohibits off-premise signs, but it does not explicitly prohibit billboards. The ordinance makes it clear billboards are considered off-premise signs.

Officials said there are three existing billboards that are grandfathered in because they existed before any regulations were implemented.