Blackberry Farm is growing with the development of Blackberry Mountain. Local residents are concerned. Many thanks to the Daily Times for the extensive local reporting.

At least two town hall meetings have been held to discuss the proposed rezoning in Walland. "The County Commission’s Agenda Committee will discuss the rezoning request at its 6:30 p.m meeting Tuesday, July 10, in Room 430 at the Courthouse, where they will vote whether or not to include it on the agenda for July’s full commission meeting July 19."

Blackberry Mountain, a division of Blackberry Farm, is proposing to rezone over 5,000 acres from rural designations to one allowing resort development. About 2,800 of those acres are in a conservation easement shielding it from development. Blackberry Mountain is set to open in 2019. It includes a lodge, cabins, private homes, restaurants, and more. It is reported that "lowest price for a night, which includes meals and other amenities, will be $895." "Blackberry Farm President Matt Alexander said the company envisions small businesses hewing to the “architecture and scale” of traditional rural enterprises."

Kathleen Puckett, a candidate for County Commission Seat B of District 8, organized the first town hall meeting on July 2, 2018. "Her opposition to the rezoning stems from her belief that it could open the door for development of the “peaceful” side of the mountain,” and create an environment similar to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge." About 120 people attended the town hall meeting. It is reported that the requested zoning does not allow greater density of residential development, but it does allow commercial development. Attendees requested County Commission delay any votes for rezoning. It would appear attendees need more information.

The Maryville Daily Times newspaper put together their explanation of the proposed rezoning.

Blackberry Farm/Mountain hosted a second town hall meeting on July 7, 2018, with just over 100 attendees. "Rural residents neighboring Blackberry Mountain worry that, beyond the Walland properties, the proposed rezoning could signal more development to come." Residents comments/questions/complaints included, "the development’s “horrendous” construction traffic on the narrow, rural Loop Road, additional future traffic triggered by employee and visitor parking, more community education on the project is needed, "the “biggest problem” with the rezoning request was that the properties could one day change hands, or that Blackberry could change its own mission", living wages (no), and the closure of Chilhowee Mountain to anyone not a client of Blackberry.

This is a lot of information to digest for such small communities as Walland and Townsend. I feel for them. It has always been a pleasure that there is a quiet side of the Smokies. Let's hope this doesn't change.

yellowdog's picture

Arrogance and a sense of entitlement

by Blackberry has made this more contentions than it had to be.
They claim to need 40 acres rezoned but are demanding 5500. If all they really need is 40, then why not ask for that?

Factchecker's picture

And don't dare call them arrogant

...are demanding 5500. If all they really need is 40, then why not ask for that?

Who are the smart job creators, anyway? Apparently it would make our heads explode if they tried to explain it.

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