SEVIERVILLE — County zoning took center stage at Monday’s Sevier County Commission meeting, with seven rezonings on the agenda and a few illustrating the push and tug as commercial development reaches areas that were once farms or quiet neighborhoods.

Neighbors came to Monday’s meeting to speak out against two proposed rezonings — one that would pave the way for a planned apartment complex in Kodak and another that would allow more commercial development on Macon Lane in Seymour.

Keith House said he moved to the area near West Dumplin Valley Road and Douglas Dam in Kodak years ago because they enjoyed the quiet neighborhood.

That area has already been growing, and now county officials say a developer is planning an apartment complex at the intersection. The owners are asking for it to be rezoned for high density residential use.

“When we built our house we did it with the knowledge we were building in a rural, residential area,” House said. “Now you are changing that.”

House said he didn’t think the roads or schools in the area were ready to support that growth.

Other apartment complexes built in Kodak in the past few years are already taxing schools.

Commission ultimately voted in favor of the rezoning.

The other rezoning to draw attention also involved the encroachment of new developments into what had once been a quiet neighborhood, as a family is looking to rezone their parent’s old home on Macon Lane for commercial use.

A neighbor, Arthur Galyon Jr., said he had moved to the Macon Lane area in 1974 with plans to stay permanently in a rural residential community. There were houses on both sides of the road at the time, he said.

But over the past few years, more and more property in that area has been approved for commercial use, as the road comes off Chapman Highway. There’s a car wash sitting on a lot where a house once stood near his home, he said, and now the property across the street from him is set to be rezoned for commercial use as well.

“I can’t imagine having to start over somewhere else, but I can’t imagine living with a commercial development right in my front yard,” he said.

He noted Macon Lane wasn’t designed for the traffic it’s started to get as businesses moved onto the road.

A spokesperson for the property owners said they were raised at the house, and they’ve faced a hard decision on how to market the property after their parents passed away.

There are businesses right on top of it, including the car wash.

With the property sitting adjacent to an area already zoned for commercial use, they’ve decided to have it rezoned for the use that would go along with the neighboring properties, he said.

Commission approved that measure as well.

Both discussions illustrate the conflicts that arise as new types of developments reach out into sections of the county that have previously been quiet.

The debate over the apartments illustrated the friction between the county’s push for more affordable housing against homeowners who never expected that kind of development when they settled into their homes years earlier.

The county was already experiencing a labor shortage before the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues of the past few years made that a nationwide issue.

Officials have tried to resolve the shortage by encouraging affordable housing in the area to lure more people to live and work here.

But as developers look for affordable land with enough acreage for apartment complexes, they are moving into outlying areas and encroaching into neighborhoods where residents hadn’t foreseen apartment complexes, and where infrastructure may have to catch up to the addition of hundreds of new residents in a short time.

As they wrestled with the decisions, some commissioners asked if they could get applicants to commit to a planned use before approving a rezoning, so that the commission could reconsider the rezoning if the plans changed.

But Planning Director Jeff Ownby said that’s not possible under state law.

“State law in Tennessee does not allow for contact zoning, that’s where you determine a land’s zoning designation based on what the proposed use is,” he said.

Some home rule communities, including metro Nashville and Knoxville, are allowed to do it, but most local governments do not.

“The enabling legislation for counties does not say that you can require a specific use to allow a certain zone,” he said.

Contact Jeff at jfarrell@themountainpress.com or Twitter at @jeffmtnpress

Contact Jeff at jfarrell@themountainpress.com or Twitter at @jeffmtnpress