LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — There is a debate going on in Loudon County. On one side, some want major housing developments built. As for the other side, they want to pump the breaks.
The Loudon County Commission approved a planned unit development (PUD) moratorium Monday night. Planned unit developments are usually higher-density developments over at least 75 acres. A PUD allows for two-and-a-half units to be built per acre, compared to two units without the PUD overlay.
“All we’re doing is taking a step back for a little while, we’re going to have some meetings, we’re going to look at our zoning policies and see if we need to take any additional steps,” said County Commissioner Van Shaver. “That would better protect our rural areas in the county.”
Shaver said growth in Loudon County is inevitable and can be a good thing if it’s handled properly. “We need to be able to determine where to have denser development,” Shaver said. “We still have a very small, country, rural roads and rural areas and farms that will be impacted by these developments that are coming in.”
Shaver clarifies this PUD moratorium would not extend into Lenoir City or Loudon, just the county. Fellow County Commissioner Bill Satterfield drafted up the plan. He said it comes down to a lot more than just housing.
“It’s about roads, it’s about utilities, it’s about fire and police protection, it’s about schools,” began Satterfield. “We want them to build so that when we’re finished we can still preserve part of what makes Loudon County Loudon County.”
“We were outlining that there can be unintended consequences with well-intended decisions,” said Hancen Sale, the Government Affairs and Policy Director for the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors.
Sale said this is the second moratorium in Loudon County in five years. He said after the last one, home prices went up. He also felt right now, considering the housing crisis across East Tennessee, now is not the time for this.
“It’s a property rights issue and it’s builders and realtors livelihoods,” said Sale. “Particularly, in a time where we need housing, this is not a wise decision.”
Sale fears decisions like moratoriums will hurt the entire region.
“To attract new employees and new investment to this area we need the housing, so this is only going to hurt East Tennessee,” said Sale.
While the Loudon County Commission voted on the PUD moratorium Monday night, there is still time for public feedback. Shaver said the first public-input meeting will be Wednesday, October 13 at 5 p.m. Once the public has provided feedback, the County Commission can make changes and vote again. During that vote, if the majority approves the moratorium, it would move to planning and zoning for final approval.