Committee approves redistricting Plan 1, step one in process

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

Local officials needed no "Plan B," or Plan 2, for reapportionment of Loudon County district lines.
The recommended Plan 1 draft was approved by the Loudon County Reapportionment Committee after some review and discussion Thursday, with only one dissenting vote. The only opposition to the plan was voiced by Loudon County Commissioner Don Miller, whose Tellico Village constituency represents the largest population growth area.

District 7, which now includes most of Tellico Village, parts of Rarity Bay and other surrounding areas, such as the Piney Ruritan area, has grown over the last decade by more than by 24 percent - more than double the state's 11.5 percent growth rate.

District 7 has grown too large, and must be reapportioned. The plan the committee selected - Plan 1 - involves shuffling about 1,851 voters from one district to another to balance districts according to population changes occurring over the last decade. The districts affected were Districts 1, 4 and 7. No new districts or commission seats are recommended under Plan 1.

The plan maintains Tellico Parkway as a boundary line, and moves voters from District 7 into District 1 and District 4. It takes District 7 from 6,568 voters to 5,108, a difference of 1,460. District 1 goes from 8,523 to 9,661, an increase of 1,138; District 4 will increase from 4,469 to 4,791, by 322.

Russ Newman, county planner and committee chairman, told committee members the proposed plan attempted to maintain neighborhoods. "We hated to have people on one side of the street in one district and the other side of the street in another."

Newman said, "Tellico Parkway is a good boundary line, defendable. West of Tellico Parkway is on the 1st district side; the other side is District 7."
The south boundary of District 1 is Davis Ferry Road; North Poplar Ridge is the north boundary.

"We hate to split up a neighborhood that is fairly well defined," Newman said. "We need to move 50-70 people, and there's no way to do that unless we cross the Parkway."

Miller said, "The Parkway is clearly defined - everybody knows the Parkway and Davis Ferry Road."

About 100 voters from the Coyatee neighborhood had been moved from District 7 into District 1 at the last redistricting. This time, additional parts of Coyatee as well as part of Tommotley will be moved to District 1.

U.S. Census figures showed a Tellico Village population of about 5,88. According to Miller, District 7 has about 6,600.

Miller had suggested an alternate plan, involving the division of Tellico Village into two districts, then taking in population to equalize them from other districts. "That plan was dead in the water before we ever started," Miller said. "It would have involved entirely redrawing the map. The Plan 1 was the only realistic plan."

When the vote was taken, Miller said he voted no. "I have to vote the best interest of my constituents," he said.

The committee redistricting plan will be brought before the Loudon County Commission for approval. However, before that happens, another part of the procedure, voter precincts within districts, must be approved by the Loudon County Election Commission.
Election Commissioner Susan Harrison said the precincts will be incorporated into the overall redistricting plan and a special called meeting of the election commission will be held to approve precincts.

A public hearing on the overall plan will be held Sept. 19, during the County Commission Workshop meeting.
The plan will be targeted for adoption at the October County Commission meeting. It must be submitted to the state by the end of the year.