All Carter County districts under county-wide zoning

Photo by Dave Boyd
A county commissioner keeps a running tally of votes on a motion made by Commissioner Al Meehan to obtain a private act for a binding zoning referendum. The motion failed 12-to-11. A simple majority of 13 votes was required to pass the motion.

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
Like it or not, Carter County is completely zoned.
Shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon, the Carter County Commission voted to implement county-wide zoning. The vote passed 15-8.
Commissioners Wayne Holtsclaw, Amos Stephens, Jerry Pearman, Phillip Nave, Chuck Culler, Tom "Yogi" Bowers, Jo Ann Blankenship, Charlie Bayless, Dickie Renfro, Lynn Tipton, Jeff Treadway, Richard Tester, Bill Armstrong, Robert Davis and Roy Merryman voted to add Districts 2, 4 and 6 to county-wide zoning.
Those who voted against the motion were Jack Buckles, Doug Buckles, Al Meehan, Joe Woods, Jim Whaley, John Lewis, Terry Montgomery and John Snyder.
Commissioner Lawrence Hodge was absent.
"I think county-wide zoning is a beginning and not an end. I believe it can be a positive thing for the future," said County Mayor Dale Fair.
Before the meeting officially began, a small group of people held "No Zoning" signs while pacing the sidewalk in front of the Carter County Courthouse.
The regular session of the county commission began at 10 a.m. with an audience that filled the entire main courtroom. Extra chairs were brought in for citizens who wanted to speak to commissioners.
After a public hearing, numerous attempts were made by Meehan to postpone a vote on zoning until the Dec. 8 regular commission meeting. However, both motions failed 12-11.
There are 24 commission members and a simple majority requires 13 votes to pass even when members are absent.
"I think the meeting was informative and good; there was a lot of good information presented. People stated the facts. I think reasonable people can disagree," added Fair.
In other business, representatives from Barge, Waggoner and Sumner presented the completion of stages one and two of the needs assessment study for the jail.
Stage one, "Where are we now?", highlighted the population of Carter County in 2000, which was 56,742. It also showed statistics for the sheriff's department personnel and jail staff.
Presently, the 23,400 square-foot facility is averaging 230 inmates daily even though it is only rated to hold 91 inmates. The ratio of inmates to staff is 16-to-1. Typically, the ratio should be 6-to-1.
A review of the facility stated that the building is sound but cited many violations, including the ceiling and ventilation system.
Stage one concluded the building could be used as something other than a detention facility.
Stage two, "Where are we going?", projected the county's population will be approximately 61,861 in 2023. It also showed inmate growth at eight percent over the past six years versus five percent the state of Tennessee.
Barge, Waggoner and Sumner will make another presentation during the Dec. 8 commission meeting.