Knoxville (WVLT) - TVA's new board says it hears its customers and citizens loud and clear.
It's made permanent, a ban it imposed after an outcry over two controversial land sales and swaps to luxury home builders.
Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd looks at whether it's a boon for conservationists, or a bust for economic development.
Depending upon the TVA owned land upon which you stand.
TVA can still sell or swap land to industry, or for public use, but apparently, not much else.
A yacht-class marina, supporting million-dollar mcmansions.
The golf-course community known as rarity point, thanks to TVA selling and swapping 116 acres on Tellico Lake, for $2.2 million and more twice the acreage elsewhere.
"The new policy is sort of like, I've got mine, but lets close the gate behind me," says Bill Baxter, TVA Board Member.
"The public has been overwhelmingly in favor of protecting public lands and around the TVA lake system," says Billy Minser an environmental activist. "I think its a significant victory."
8 votes to 1, TVA has banned selling or swapping, its, your, public lands to residential, retail or non-industrial business developers except "in rare instances where the public benefits would be so significant that transferring ownership would be justified."
But TVA has NOT defined, specifically what might qualify as a justifiably significant benefit.
Leading some smaller counties and Chamber leaders to question whether a Rarity Point is beyond their reach.
"We currently have a project that is under consideration for that site, so we do hope the water access provision will be removed," says Greta Ownby, from the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
"The core mission of TVA is not producing electricity , the core mission of TVA is economic development," says Baxter.
Board member Bill Baxter says the ban is so inflexible it risks dulling East Tennessee lure to retirees or empty nesters willing to pay rarity-level prices and taxes.
"95 percent of the state is private land. They should work to bring in industry and retirees on the private land, not the public land they have left," Minser says.
Bottom line: developers in Rockwood may have more trouble trying to get someone to take land Uncle Sam deeded over, more than half a century ago.
But Campbell County probably can go ahead with its convention center targeted for Norris Dam.
It'd be considered part of a public park project, not a private development.