Apocalypse, The Beginning Of The End

The current citizens of Lenoir City and East Loudon County may very well have the dubious honor of being the ones who will witness the ultimate death of our community. If in fact, if Dr. Bob Overholt's Town Creek Development and Ed Loy's Creekwood Development do come to fruition, this will be the beginning of the end for the way of life we all know. Apparently, developers are now calling the shots rather than our elected officials. Area residents are essentially on a run away train and the conductors are asleep at the switch.

How could anyone in their right mind believe these developments are in any way going to be good for anyone but the developers? Both developers behind these mammoth projects have apparently convinced local officials that the taxes received from their developments will make it all worth it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Can our local officials not see any farther than the end of their noses? Have they given any consideration to the impact these developments will have on every aspect of our community? Obviously not or they just don't care.

Both developers have given their vision of how they feel our community should go, but has anyone bothered to ask local residents how they feel about these developments? In fact several years ago an in depth survey was done and the outcome was stunning. Overwhelmingly, the citizens wholly rejected mass development such as those that are being proposed. Yet officials have turned a deaf ear to the wishes of their citizens.

Developers always make the same claims but if you look closely at all the hollow promises made by developers while trying to push their agendas, it doesn't take long for those promises to fall apart. Promise number one is always the allure of massive tax revenue increases for local governments. This in itself is suppose to be such a great enticement that local officials become so mesmerized by the thought of sudden tax windfalls that they have to sign on to any proposed plan. Promise number two is always the creation of jobs.

Any new tax revenues generated by these developments will be far out paced by added cost of government services and the need for improved infrastructure. Walmart was going to be the end all for tax revenues, then Home Depot then the coup de grâce for tax collections was to be liquor by the drink. Yet the city and county still struggle with tax shortfalls, evidenced by tax increases by both. Lenoir City and Loudon County are already under a mountain of debt and Lenoir City is looking at spending potentially tens of millions of dollars just to bring services up to a standard just to serve it's current population. And what about the additional traffic that will be generated by these developments? Lenoir City and East Loudon have almost reached gridlock proportions when it comes to our traffic. It can only get worse with more commercial and residential development. When was the last time the city or the county built a new road or for that matter even made improvements to existing roads? New and improved roads will have to come and their not cheap.

As to job growth, Loudon County has for decades enjoyed almost zero unemployment. Even though statistics always show the county around the four percent range or less of unemployment, that essentially means that every one who wants to work, is working. Look closely at the proposed developments and the type of businesses they plan to bring to our community. Both claim they know what we need in our community. Both say their developments will bring "big-box retailers and neighborhood stores, a multi-screen movie theater, medical office complex and strip retail, office and restaurant space and hotels." None of the promised businesses coming to these developments are known to offer high paying jobs, in fact these type businesses are well know to offer only minimum wages or less. Where will the hundreds of new employees needed for these developments come from? Certainly not from Loudon County. Ask any employer in the county how hard it is to hire help. There is only one place to turn for employees that are willing to work for such meager wages. We can expect a huge increase of illegal immigrant employment. Regardless of where these low income employees come from, they will need housing, schooling and all the other government services needed by residents. The Loudon County Board Of Education has already estimated the need for more than a hundred million dollars of new schools just to keep up with the current anticipated growth. Schools, roads, water, sewers, services all come with hefty price tags.

Loy and Overholt have both made statements of what great opportunities these developments will be. This may be true for themselves, a few realtors and a few land owners. But for the rest of us, these developments are a disaster and will absolutely be the death of our community.