Homeowners gear up for Jefferson County commission megasite vote

Homeowners gear up for Jefferson County commission megasite vote

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By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

DANDRIDGE (WATE) - The Jefferson County Commission votes Monday whether or not to approve the first phase of funding for the megasite certification process.

A megasite is a piece of land that would be prepared and ready for an industrial group, such as a car manufacturer, to move in with infrastructure already in place.

The project would require more than 100 landowners to sign over their property.

But homeowners in and around the designated area for the proposed megasite aren't standing quietly by as the county talks about turning their farmland into an industrial site.

"These are the people I grew up with, the people I go to church with. These are the people I have known all my entire life, and we've been through ups and downs, and we know each other. We help each other out. The core site would completely disrupt and dismantle that," said Jennifer Gray, who lives near the proposed megasite.

Landowners formed a group called 'Save Our Farms and Homes,' or SOFAH, to try to stop progress on the megasite.

The attorney for the group spoke Saturday, explaining the procedures for Monday's commission meeting.

One of the commissioners for that part of the county was also there. He says he was just as stunned as the homeowners when he found out about the plans just last month.

"This has all been done in secrecy. Me being the commissioner from the 9th district, I should have know about this from the beginning. I found out two days before they went public," said Jefferson County 9th District Commissioner Jimmy Carmichael.

Carmichael worries about the cost of the project, and the cost to taxpayers.

"I've done a preliminary assessment on it... and when I looked at what they were actually wanting to level down, and actually do the work, it would cost a billion dollars just to do the grade work. I'm figuring a billion dollar process. The people of Jefferson County, we can't raise taxes that high to do that, not when you're giving the kind of tax abatements you're going to be giving," added Carmichael.

Some homeowners have already been asked to sign purchase agreements.

The attorney explained parts of the purchase agreement, and advised them to hire representation if they are considering signing.

The commission meeting starts at 5 p.m. Monday evening. Several landowners are expected to be in attendance.

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