Blount County commissioners on a 17-2 vote revised regulations governing private airstrips in the county during the Jan. 21 commission meeting.
The regulation stipulated the landing strips could not be situated in a manner in which aircraft could either approach or depart over anyone else’s residence except the landing strips owner. It also stipulated that residences had to be located a minimum of 2,000 feet from the landing strip.
Commissioners Wendy Pitts Reeves and Scott Helton voted no. Commissioners Joe McCulley and David Graham were not present but Graham did arrived later in the meeting.
Commissioner Holden Lail suggested that commissioners should also consider making the new regulation part of the subdivision regulation. “This is something I think needs to be studied by Planning. I don’t want to stop the process of where we’re going but there are other elements that could be tightened up,” he said. “We are in essence creating a new zone for airports. This is a subdivision that has the capability of flying an airplane into it. The point is we need to tighten it up.”
The controversy regarding airstrips began earlier this year when neighbors of Seymour resident Dennis Weaver complained after he built a landing strip on his property.
Carol Ross of Blount County told commissioners during “Input for items on the agenda” that, “I hope this commission at some point in the future requires the Planning Commission to put restrictions on airstrips to prevent clutter of air strips around the county.”
Maryville High School student Megan McNeil, 14, recently won first place for a speech she wrote. Megan received first place in the Veterans of Foreign War local “Voice of Democracy” speech contest. She read “Heroes or Ordinary People” at the commission meeting and was given a standing ovation.
Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham read a proclamation honoring the Alcoa and Maryville high school football teams. AHS won the state championship, and MHS made it to the championship game.
The mayor said the commission and he were very proud of member of both teams.
“Not only because of your athletic accomplishments and competitive spirit but also because of the kinds of role models you young men are to the community,” he said. “That says so much about you, your school, coaches and families. We are so proud of Alcoa and Maryville.”