County complies with state

Greg Wilkerson News Herald

Members of the Loudon County Commission reversed last month’s decision regarding adoption of a water quality buffer resolution.

In December, six members of the commission voted against passing the resolution, which has been mandated by the state.  Michael Atchley with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Pollution Control responded by contacting County Mayor Estele Herron and informing her the state would be fining the county $10,000 if the regulations were not approved in January.

With Commissioners Don Miller and Austin Shaver absent Monday night, the commission voted unanimously, 8-0 to pass the resolution.

Miller previously voted to pass the resolution and Shaver voted against it in December. “It’s the same document that was on the agenda last month,” County Planning Director Russ Newman said to the commission prior to the vote. Those changing their votes include Brian Jenkins, Harold Duff, Earlena Maples, David Meers and Roy Bledsoe, who each voted against the resolution in December.

Votes by commissioners Steve Harrelson, Sharon Yarbrough and Bob Franke remained unchanged in favor of the resolution.

Every member of the commission has at some point in recent months expressed their reluctancy and disapproval of the state mandate. The buffer is required as part of the county’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which requires communities operating a small municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) to regulate the discharge of pollutants.

The passed resolution uses the minimum requirements set by the state. They include a buffer with a minimum width of 30 feet measured horizontally from the top of the bank for drainage areas less than one square mile and 60 feet for those with drainage areas greater than one square-mile.

Commissioners argued the requirements essentially take property owners land without compensation.

The resolution only affects a relatively small portion of the county near Lenoir City where the population density is high enough to force the requirements. It also only affects new development. Land used for agricultural purposes is exempt.