Dealing with growth theme at Sevier County Mayor’s Luncheon

How to manage huge economic growth in Sevier County is an issue facing all three cities and the county.
How to manage huge economic growth in Sevier County is an issue facing all three cities and the county.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 5:03 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It is a good problem to have for Sevier County: how to manage growth. At the Mayor’s Luncheon on Tuesday, leaders from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and the county talked about plans for dealing with traffic, building more affordable housing and beefing up the workforce.

Leaders from all three cities and the county took to the stage in an event hosted by the Sevier County Hospitality & Tourism Alliance to address ongoing issues due to growth in Sevier County.

The hot topics included roads, water and sewer and public places to relax, like Gatlinburg’s city parks which are undergoing improvements.

“Even though we live pretty much right there inside the national park, our inner park system, which is in the city itself, matters so much to the residents. So, recently we just completed our dog park, which has been immensely popular and the thing that astounded me about it was that it wasn’t just popular with residents, is how many people traveled with their animals and their dogs are using that dog park,” said City Commissioner Ryan DeSear.

In Sevierville, that growth includes huge developments planned at the 407 interchange. Now, plans to build a 408 interchange to manage traffic coming into the county are on Sevierville officials’ minds, according to Mayor Robbie Fox.

“We’re excited about the growth at 407, we’re very excited about Buc-ee’s, Puy du Fou, and there’s other venues coming out there as well. This is phase one, we think there’s three phases of this,” said Fox.

That growth has expanded to downtown with dozens of new restaurants and shopping boutiques. “There’s great potential for that downtown area. There’s numerous shops and venues serving food beverages, they’re there to have a good time,” Fox said.

Across the county, controlling traffic and building the workforce for all this growth was the common theme at the meeting. Everyone working together is the key to fixing these issues, according to Sevier County Vice Mayor Bryan McMcarter.

“Basically what we’re finding today is that these issues that Sevier County has, from whether it be transportation, housing to infrastructure, it crosses city and county lines. And so in order for us to be effective, we’ve got to work together,” said McCarter.

An 8% pay raise is coming to Pigeon Forge city employees as the commission passed the first reading of the budget for next year. Plans to build a new fire station and police headquarters are underway as well.

“‘20 and ‘21 were kind of anomalies, due to the pandemic, and the pin-up demand and the explosion of tourism last year. We’re hoping to settle out a little more this year, we do have a lot of things in the budget this year to address some of those ongoing challenges, but they’re always going to be challenges,” said Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear.

City Commission passed first reading of a budget to fund the architecture and engineering a new...
City Commission passed first reading of a budget to fund the architecture and engineering a new fire and police station.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.