Jefferson County Commission approves megasite plan

Jefferson County Commission approves megasite plan

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Commissioners voted 14-4 to approve the initial funding of $442,000, which will act as a down payment for the certification process. Commissioners voted 14-4 to approve the initial funding of $442,000, which will act as a down payment for the certification process.
"This is a compromise. This allows the property owner if they want to sell it, they can put it up for sale," Commissioner John Neal Scarlett said. "This is a compromise. This allows the property owner if they want to sell it, they can put it up for sale," Commissioner John Neal Scarlett said.

DANDRIDGE (WATE) - Jefferson County commissioners approved funding Monday night for a proposed industrial megasite.

The site is an 1,800 acre parcel of land in the county that would be prepared for use by a large industrial business.

Commissioners voted 14-4 to approve the initial funding of $442,000, which will act as a down payment for the certification process.

Before the vote commissioners approved an amendment to the funding motion to appease many residents.

County Commissioner John Neal Scarlett proposed the amendment to prohibit eminent domain unless requested by the property owner for tax breaks.

"This is a compromise. This allows the property owner if they want to sell it, they can put it up for sale," Scarlett said. "If they want to keep it, they can keep it. This puts everyone on an equal playing field. If we're to do this as a county we've got to do it together."

County leaders are hoping to attract an automobile company to the area once the site is certified.

Now that initial funding is approved, the Jefferson County Economic Development Council will continue pursuing certification.

Certification could take up to a year. The space can't be sold to a company until that happens.

Homeowners in and around the area of the proposed megasite were unhappy about the idea from the start.

More than 150 showed up at Monday's meeting and many insist they will still not sell their property. But some have already signed options with real estate representatives.

According the Economic Development Oversight Committee, property owners representing 400 acres of the proposed megasite in Jefferson County have signed options.

There are just over 100 properties that will need to be bought out for the site to move forward.

The megasite has the potential to bring 4,900 jobs and $2.7 billion in economic impact to Jefferson County.

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