City of Loudon leaders look to resolve planning services issue
Vicky Newman News Herald
Many questions remain unanswered as the city of Loudon looks toward a new fiscal year. Who will accept site plans and bring recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission? Who will ensure construction projects meet the necessary requirements?

Instead of scrambling to establish an in-house planning office, or contracting with the state of Tennessee for planning services, the City of Loudon may seek to contract with Loudon County for continued planning services.

The necessity for a change came last year when Lenoir City leaders opted to discontinue planning services that had been established by an interlocal agreement between the city, Loudon County and the City of Loudon. Lenoir City Council's move left the future of the regional planning office uncertain, and how the City of Loudon would procure planning services unclear. 

During early budget considerations, Lynn Mills, city manager, had suggested the city might be required to fund the regional office at a higher amount to continue receiving services. Loudon leaders were also looking into state planning services.

Now, the County Commission is moving to combine the Loudon County Planning Office and the Loudon County Codes Enforcement Office. The regional planning office will no longer exist.

In Monday's workshop meeting Mills told Loudon City Council members he had submitted a letter to Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp requesting the County Commission consider the city of Loudon's continued use of the Planning Office's services.

Negotiations toward that possibility have not begun yet, and the matter likely will not be included on the agenda for action June 15. Mills said he'd simply begun making inquiries, to determine if the requested setup might be possible. "My feeling is that we are better served to continue to use Russ (Newman) and his staff. That keeps it local," Mills said.

Vice Mayor Eugene Lambert asked how much contracting with the county might cost. "The county said they would save $150,000 a year," Lambert said. "I think our payments should stay the same."

Mills replied city leaders and staff did not anticipate the cost would stay the same, but said he didn't think it would be at the $25,000 level. "They made Russ department head," Lambert said. "I don't think we should pay that extra money. Maybe $1,000 or $2,000 more, but not $25,000. He may be so busy with the new work he would not have time to do our work."

Councilman Lewis "Charlie Brown" Garner expressed concern regarding the quality of service the people of Loudon would get under this new setup.