Council approves Loudon bait shop as owner plans festival

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

The Loudon City Council on Monday adopted a zoning ordinance amendment that will allow James "Butch" Thompson to pursue building a bait shop business on the small, irregular-shaped lot he owns at the corner of Poplar and Church streets.

The council overrode a recommendation by the Loudon Planning Commission to deny the spot rezoning request. The ordinance adoption followed the required public hearing, which elicited no response from residents.

The lot at the corner of Poplar and Church measures 108-by-33 feet. Thompson wants to locate a small building, 16-by-24 feet, with the building facing Church Street. He will supply minnows and refreshments to youth that fish on the river nearby or play ball in the park.

Thompson still must return to the commission for site plan approval and variances that would allow property setbacks to be reduced.

Mayor Judy Keller said she supported Thompson's idea. "I think this is a good way to grow up," she said.

Thompson said he will begin working on the shop as soon as he gets necessary permits in place.
Meanwhile, he is working with Loudon Parks and Recreation to organize a free fishing festival day for families at the river. He said he had organized the fishing festivals as fundraisers in the past.
For the designated festival day, fishing permits will not be necessary.

"The last one I did brought out 700 people and 200 kids fished," Thompson said. "There will be lots of free stuff and kids like free stuff. Once they start fishing, they will go back to it. I see that all the time, and fishing keeps them out of trouble."

Thompson said the event will not be just for children. "It's for kids 6 to 106," he said. "It will be a lot of fun for a lot of folks."

In other business, council:

* Adopted an ordinance accepting Llewellyn Lane, Kline Drive, Evelyn Drive and Olivia Circle as city streets. The streets are located in Sweetwater Creek subdivision.

* Approved on first reading an ordinance amending the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget to include unbudgeted items and changes such as termination of the school resource officer program and the addition of the Ceramica Del Conca project. The amendment also includes transfer of $10,000 from the Courthouse Square Revitalization Fund to Downtown Improvements for development of a small park on the property beside Annabelle's Emporium.

* Approved a resolution to lease a vehicle to the Loudon County Economic Development Agency. The move will allow the vehicle to be a part of the Vehicle Replacement Program offered by Jacky Jones Ford Lincoln.

* Approved a resolution to allow Star Vending Inc. to provide vending concessions at the Loudon pool.

Mark Harrell, parks and recreation director, said providing concessions at the pool has become cost prohibitive for the city since minimum wage increased.

The vending machines will allow the city to earn 10 percent on vending sales. The machines may be made accessible to after-hours park users as well, increasing the amount sold.

If the city decides against the move, there is no long term agreement, Harrell said.