As the housing demand is increasing and new, big businesses like Amazon and Smith & Wesson are moving to Blount County, a developer has challenged the County Commission’s’ decision to reject his large subdivision.

Increasingly, citizens have voiced concern over the thickening population density transforming their once-open county.

In September, the Blount County Planning Commission shot down a proposal to build subdivision on farmland outside city limits, called Pate Farms, citing inability to meet sewage needs.

On Monday, the landowner of Pate Farms, Stephen Blair, petitioned a Blount County court, alleging that the commission illegally voted down his subdivision.

Blair is asking that the court void the commission’s decision, order it to approve his preliminary plans for the subdivision and grant him any other relief to which he’s entitled.

The preliminary plans for Pate Farms included 70.55 acres of land and 190 residential lots along Old Niles Ferry Road in Maryville.

The lawsuit states that before their decision, the Department of Development Services issued the commission a document that noted how the subdivision met certain requirements, such as lot sizes.

Additionally, that document stated that city of Maryville Public Utilities confirmed they could provide water, electric and sewage during the proposed preliminary phases of the subdivision.

Reporting from The Daily Times states that a Maryville City councilwoman addressed public concerns in September surrounding the city’s utility approval of almost 200 lots outside city limits.

She said the subdivision falls inside a margin outlying the city, which was created to allow urban development. And she added that since the developer was going to fund all the expenses and it wouldn’t increase utility rates, they would be allowed to connect to the city’s sewage lines.

When county commissioners denied Pate Farm’s approval, the suit states that the sole issue was “speculations and fears” that sewer services would not support the large development.

Also noted in the suit is that several citizens openly opposed the subdivision because of its density and their concerns over the growing population in the county.

Reporting from The Daily Times stated that a “large crowd” of county residents pleaded with the commission to “put a stop” to the subdivision during the meeting that voted down Pate Farms.

One citizen held up a photo of the Blount County countryside, reminded the commissioners that they have a duty to preserve the land and said developers will try to take advantage of farmland.

During the meeting, others voiced concerns for Old Niles Ferry Road, saying it currently needs an expansion, even without the additional 190 lots Pate Farms would add. They also were concerned a new, large student population may not have a school to attend.

However, the suit counters that the director of schools for Blount County confirmed they would be able to accommodate the proposed development.

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