Where Preservation Meets Progress

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Pigeon Forge, Sevier County (WVLT) - Your view of the Smokies is probably a lot different than the one you remember as a child.

It's not all forests anymore.

Nowadays, some hills and mountains are dotted, sometimes covered, with cabins and new developments.

Tuesday night, a meeting that could change that.

Stephen McLamb takes a look at what's become a tough balance between growth and preservation.

Some developers and homeowners say its property rights issue. But some preservationists feel it’s a little different when you develop property meant for everyone to see.

“I love Wears Valley, my heart is in Wears Valley,” says Peggy Headrick.

Cove Mountain is a pristine mountain, like several in Sevier County, but preservation is battling what others call progress. Such is that on nearby Shields Mountain.

I hate it. I think it’s sad. It’s happening around us a lot, and I feel we are killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” Headrick says.

Some feel some such progress will inevitably hurt tourism down the road.

“Our position is they don’t come here to shop at t-shirt shops and just go to things up and down the parkway. They come to enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains,” John Meyers of Friends of Wears Valley says.

“So you have to be all for putting houses up there. Oh yeah it keeps me in work,” builder Dale Stinnett says it’s hard to stop a 20 year trend, but does believe developers should make the homes blend in. “I think they should have to put back shrubbery and plant trees they took out.”

But in all its beauty Cove Mountain has become a big target for developers.

“Our concern is that the whole mountain be covered with red roof cabins and clear cut,” Meyers says.

So now everyone is trying to find a sense of balance.

“We would like to see sensible building that protects not only the beauty of the mountains, but protects the homeowners who buy in to some of these developments, Meyers adds.

This is the first public meeting for everyone. Officials say the consulting group putting on the event will also be talking with area leaders who will develop the guidelines for the future.

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