JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – The county commission workshop on Monday night featured a parade of citizens appearing to address the commission on a variety of issues, with one thing touched upon but briefly, almost timidly – zoning.
Campbell County’s lack of a countywide zoning law was evident last month when the commission discussed their options for blocking or restricting a proposed rock quarry operation uncomfortably close to Campbell County High School and several residences.
With no clear legal option for an outright ban on the quarry, the commission was left with passing a resolution that could impose distance limits on blasting and other restrictions on noise, dust or other possible problems. The only available penalty for violation of such restrictions, however, may be a $50 fine.
The quarry issue came up again at the workshop, as commissioners were advised to again pass the resolution but with changes to include a 2,000 foot distance from a power grid or utility and to add that the county “can terminate approval of the quarry if found in violation” of any of the provisions.
Continued frustration about the quarry operation was reflected as commissioners were told that blasting is already underway at the site, but under a previous state permit that allows low yield detonations to clear an area for housing. The operator has already received a letter from the state informing them that they are in violation of their permit, but no action has been taken, attorney James Wright noted.
Other speakers brought a variety of problems to the commission’s attention, ranging from complaints about a junkyard on Carr Drive to an ongoing neighborhood feud involving a streetlight. “They are parking junk cars on both sides of the roadway and heavy trucks are constantly running on a residential street,” Joe Fitton complained.
Mary Smith also spoke, thanking several commissioners for coming out to her home to see for themselves the problem posed by a neighbor whose private security light reflects bright light at night on Smith’s home on Cedar Creek Road.
Unfortunately, the neighbor’s light is not owned by LUB but is on a private pole on private property, with the county having no power to restrict his use.
County Attorney Joe Coker pointed out that without a zoning law, the county commission had no power to restrict many of the activities that were discussed. “The power to implement zoning is the county commission’s, but it has to go through a process,” Coker pointed out.
Several commissioners pointed out that attempts to discuss zoning have been done in the past. “Every time it’s been brought up, the courthouse is packed with people opposed to it,” Rusty Orick recalled.
Perhaps the best summary of the commission’s attitude was summed up by Scott Kitts.
“With everything that’s going on, I’m not supporting it but we really have to take a close look at this (zoning),” Kitts commented. “We need to step up to the plate.”
“Are you going to bring up zoning at the next meeting?” Chairman Johnny Bruce asked.
“Uh, I would, but I’m just saying how I feel.” Kitts replied.
“Thank you. Next!” Bruce responded as he moved the meeting forward.
Other speakers came before the commission with less controversial presentations. Lion’s Club president Brandon Johnson discussed the dedication of the Campbell County Lion’s Club in helping screen thousands of school children for vision and paying for eyeglasses for hundreds of children from needy families. He asked the commission to consider a $5,000 donation to the club, which Chairman Bruce said would be considered in the upcoming county budget.
Bonnie Swinford and Tania Brookman spoke to commissioners about passing a resolution of support for extending the federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program. That program provides money from the federal government to pay for cleaning up old strip mine sites that were disturbed before the passage of federal regulatory laws.
Tennessee receives $2 million a year for the cleanup work from a trust fund established by collections from coal operators when coal production was still heavy, and activists are hoping to see that amount increased. At this time support for that program is critical, Swinford pointed out, as the federal law is set to sunset next year, which would terminate future reclamation projects.
After the public input segment of the workshop ended, the commission took over a half hour in a private executive session with attorney James Wright to discuss upcoming legal actions involving the rock quarry problem before returning to set next week’s agenda and adjourn. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/12/2020-6AM)