Slopeside Overdevelopment

As a native East Tennessean, I have a personal appreciation for the mountainlands that we are blessed with in this area. The mountains are part of our natural heritage and their visual appeal is a major factor in what brings millions of tourist dollars to the area each year. This is why the Smoky Mountains are the most visited national park in the country.

Unfortunately, much of the mountain area that surrounds the Smoky Mountains continues to be compromised by narrow short-term interests. A few days ago I was with a group in the Happy Valley area of Blount County and we were very saddened to see what was happening on the steep upper slopes of the south side of Chilhowee Mountain.

This once visually appealing mountainside is now streaked with a series of roads, utilities, and sporadic house clearings. Aside from poor land ethics, the simple fact is some areas are just not appropriate for development. It is not a property rights issue but rather a common sense issue. Developing the steep slopes on the south side of Chilhowee Mountain simply makes no sense and greatly compromises the scenic value of this special place for current and future generations.

This kind of development is also economically unviable because it detracts from our tax base by damaging something that cannot be replaced (our natural beauty) and adding infrastructure in locations that are difficult and expensive for taxpayers to maintain.

Other areas across the nation would love to have the natural beauty that we are blessed with. Let's please do the right thing and protect what we have been given by our Creator.

Mark Shipley