View Full Version : Byron's Report and "Smart Growth"

01-28-2008, 02:59 PM
This really doesn't fit into any particular category, but since there's little fishing going on in the mountains...

I was really struck by what Byron has been saying about "smart growth" and how Townsend wants to implement it. Let me just say, as someone who is living in an area that is suffering the consequences of unplanned growth, it is a MUST. St Tammany Parish (county for everyone outside of Louisiana) has been the fastest-growing area of the state for some time now. 40 years ago, it was largely a rural area, with some vacation/resort areas for people from New Orleans to escape the heat and yellow fever of the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain. The opening of the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway (world's longest bridge) made access to the north shore easier, and subdivisions started to appear. However, growth exploded, starting in the late 1970s, when the crime rate in the city started to spike. The road network, designed for a slower, simpler time, has been overwhelmed. Because most of the growth occurred in unincorporated areas, there is no public transportation, and everything is spread out in a large "exhurb" - you have to drive everywhere. I live right across from a major shopping development, but I have to drive even to it - to walk would be to take my life in my hands. Traffic congestion is, in my opinion, worse than anything in the city, and will not get better anytime soon. From a personal standpoint, a lot of the swamps and other places I used to fish as a kid are long gone, replaced by subdivisions.

I've mentioned to a lot of people that, if I didn't have young children, I would love to live back in the city, in the uptown area where my family used to live. I could walk to the store, and catch the St Charles Ave streetcar to get most places - I wouldn't need my car hardly at all. Of course, the city isn't the greatest place to raise kids anymore, so that isn't an option. Anyway, I'm glad that Townsend is thinking about this issue, particularly because Blount County already has a lot of this rampent type growth around Maryville and other areas. I'm as conservative as they come, and certainly no tree-hugger - I don't begrudge anyone trying to make a living, creating jobs, etc - but unless things are thought through, the growth will become unmanageable, and you'll end up with an area that will be unrecognizable.

Anyway, my .02 worth.

01-28-2008, 03:22 PM
Having traveled to the Smokies for nearly 40 years, it is disturbing to see the negative impacts to the surroundings with the uncontrolled growth. Too, I respect a person's right to earn a living but smart growth is controlled growth. As the growth continues to shrink the available greenspace, the developers are slowly killing the reason that most people visit the Smokies in the first place.

BTW, the garden district of New Orleans is one of the prettiest places there is and nothing like an evening at Preservation Hall.

01-28-2008, 03:42 PM
I live in a subdivision that is situated on part of a farm that I used to hunt when in my teens. I live in Boone county Kentucky which is much like St. Charles Parish has been described by JSouth.

I applaud what Townsend is doing.


Rog 1
01-28-2008, 05:05 PM
My mother was born in Sevierville and I spent a part of almost all my school year summers roaming this area....I still have relatives in the area and most of my memories are of a town numbering3-4000 people. My uncle and aunt were recently displaced by the need for a faster backway into Dollywood...SR66 crossed a one lane bridge and the only reason to cross it was to go to Uncle Hal's or Douglas Dam....while Gatlinburg was more or less the same Pigeon Forge was barely a wide spot in the road that had about a half dozen motels to handle the overflow from the Burg.....I can remeber horse drawn wagons in the center of town on Sat. mornings....now its hard for anyone there to really tell you where the center of town is....Wear's Valley was more or less isolated by a series of one lane horse bridges and was only used as a short cut to Tremont to fish....the scaping of the hill tops led to the horrible fires last summer that claimed a lot of cabins....no thought as to how the fire dept could answer a call or fight such blazes....I only shutter to think what the Park would look like today.....guess the cove would look more like Park City Utah with ski slopes and a big golf course in the meadow....

01-28-2008, 06:51 PM
Being from central FL I have determined this: Smart growth = more than you asked for and less of what you have.

01-28-2008, 10:03 PM
Amen to what you are saying. Everytime I go through Wears Valley it discourages me to see all the house up on the sides of hills and mountains, trying to get higher than the other person, is what it looks like to me. That is what I ABSOLUTELY love about Townsend-- it is growing,yes, but there's a mystique about it that it is still country...and that is why people love to be there.

Facing that same thing on the Hiwassee too, by the way, from what I have heard. It's just, IMHO, greedy people capitalizing on beautiful scenery. But what is beautiful about a mountainside that is gutted? Or a steam that is filthy? I could go on b/c I am getting worked up, but I hear what you're saying and I totally agree! Good post!

01-28-2008, 10:09 PM
I can hardly bear to drive through Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburn anymore without getting my dander up. I pray that this will never happen to the Townsend side. If you drive the "back way" through Sevierville you can't miss "Legacy Mountain", truly an abomination to God's creation (hope this picture link works, if not do an Image Google search of "Legacy Mountain Sevierville"):


01-28-2008, 10:44 PM
Wow...that's a horrible sight. It's like a lot of the newer subdivisions around here, only worse, because of the mountain. Now, I have to admit, I grew up in a subdivision, but it was one of the first ones built around here; the lots were bigger, most of the trees were left, and they left the swampy areas alone. Now, they're building wherever they can...put the house on stilts if it's swampy.

The point is not to deny anyone a vacation home...after all, I own property up there now, and someday I hope to build on it. However, when I build, I plan on taking out as few trees as possible (I have a lot of hemlocks, which I hope are around when I finally build). So, you build a little slower, with a little more thought. Also, you don't, as has happened far too many times down here, throw up a subdivision or a shopping center without planning for the traffic. We have a road network here designed for the late 50s-early 60s, when the population was no more than a tenth of what it is now.

01-28-2008, 11:19 PM
My company owns a Chalet in the ski mountain road area. I have had the good fortune to have use of it once or twice a year for 16yrs. Its old and need of some work, but sits on 7 acres of land. There is a lot that sits on one side of it and we always assumed that it was not buildable. WRONG!!!! they are building on lots with 30' foundations. Scary! We are thinking of buying it and the two private cabins around us. They bought this chalet for around $100,000 19 yrs ago. I think the lot is worth 3 times that now. So far we have a clear view of the smokies, but if we don't buy the other lot the view will be spoiled. I am in the building industry and growth is really good for me and right now I need growth in Middle Tennessee to keep from laying off people, but it needs to be controlled. And not let the developers go hog wild. The reason that the building industry is getting in sad shape is due to the fact that we have overbuilt. My company is in good shape and I may be asked to trim the fat a little, But several other companies have laid off several people.

Byron Begley
01-29-2008, 11:46 AM
Check out today's fishing report and the link to the Daily Times. Good posts folks.


01-29-2008, 09:30 PM
Byron, I always appreciate your insight and respect your opinion and knowledge. I actually support restricting private automobile traffic in Cades Cove to either "Alternative 4" or "Alternative 5", which would impose a reservation system + tram or tram only, respectively, during peak season. To be honest, I never take my car into the loop any more because the traffic is so bad (Look! A squirrel! Let's all stop right in the middle of the road and take pictures/chase it!). It is just too frustrating. I also limit my walks/bike trips to the times when auto traffic is prohibited. The difference in the Cove with and without cars is unbelievable. I think the trams would be great; providing access to all (including fisherman and hikers) while maintaining some peace and quiet.

Any thoughts on any of the 5 proposed "Alternatives"? Any ideas on which contenders are likely to be implemented?

Thanks as always,

David Knapp
01-29-2008, 10:49 PM
I have struggled with the topic of the cove and personally come to the opposite conclusion. While the idea of cutting crowds (theoretically) and pollution (the one reason I would support the idea of trams) is nice, in my opinion it really limits your flexibility. No cars (at least at certain times of the day) in the cove would be frustrating to me. When I'm in the area fishing and feel like running over to Abrams, I want to be able to do so flexibly which means having my own transportation. Riding a bus/tram would be annoying because you will be stopping every little ways for people to get on/off. It would still take a long time to get around the cove and you can forget getting around at your own pace if you want to go slow. Even more annoying would be the requirement to make a reservation if you want to drive your own car. That would definitely put an end to any spur of the moment Abrams trips, at least during the peak hours each day that the system was in place. I think the cove is what it is and by having the mobs descending on it, other parts of the park go largely unnoticed leaving us a lot of places to enjoy without the crowds...

I personally would like to see an entrance fee for the park (with a season pass option of course). All other major parks have one so its long overdue. With the extra $$$, get more rangers patrolling the cove (and elsewhere) and write tickets for blocking traffic...seriously, people wouldn't be rude if it started costing them a fortune. I think the traffic flow would be much better if people were forced to pull off or keep moving.

Unfortunately, any of the solutions (including leaving it as is) will still have pitfalls of some type...unless maybe they could just give me access privileges at all times...:rolleyes: :biggrin:

Hopefully they'll figure something out...

01-30-2008, 12:03 AM
I personally would like to see an entrance fee for the park (with a season pass option of course). All other major parks have one so its long overdue.

I've often thought the same thing...in fact, the first time I visited the park (as an adult), I made sure to go by an ATM and get some cash - I assumed there was a fee. I think a nominal fee would be great - the park would at least partially become self-sufficient. However, that will probably never happen, because of the stipulation Tennessee and North Carolina put on the formation of the park - that the over-mountain highway would be a free road. I certainly don't want to come across as a snob, and ordinarily I would be against what amounts to a tax (well, it isn't really, but you catch my drift). However, all these people are enjoying the park, all funded by our income taxes; if it takes a use fee to free the park from the shackles of the annual federal budgeting process, and, however infinitesimally, reduce my bill from Uncle Sam, I'm all for it.

01-30-2008, 08:13 AM
Sad to say, if you cut out the automobiles, you'll cut out funding to the park, that's the way gov't works:mad:
They say there was a time in history when folks walked or rode mules/horses, of course we're to lazy for that.
It's ashame with all the technology we have today, we still aren't smart enough to protect the ecology of the world, we just manage to destroy it..


Rog 1
01-30-2008, 11:09 AM
I think someone set the record straight once before but isnn't there some restriction on charging an entrance fee to the GSMNP that was established when the park was created?

Paula Begley
01-30-2008, 11:56 AM
I think someone set the record straight once before but isnn't there some restriction on charging an entrance fee to the GSMNP that was established when the park was created?


Many people fear the restriction of vehicles to be a first step in the revocation of that entrance fee restriction, so it would create a fire storm of protest.


01-30-2008, 01:32 PM
I stepped into this a little late, but where can I go to read about the different Alternatives to traffic in Cades Cove? I have heard that they were considering something for a while now, I just didn't know what was proposed. Other than my 1 trip a year to run the loop while it is closed to automobiles, I personally refuse to visit the place due to the congestion. If I want to fish Abrams, I hike up from the campground, which means that I have never fished above the falls.

Grumpy, You stated that if you cut out automobiles, you cut out funding. Is the park funded by traffic count, or were you just implying that with reduced visitors, the government wouldn't see a need for more funds?

01-30-2008, 02:34 PM
I too stepped in late.

I just wanted to say that where I live (southeast FL) they have royally screwed up everything here when it comes to zoning and planning. I wouldnt even consider owning a house here. I'm 25 now, and I remember when I was about 14, and lived within 5 miles of the everglades. I remember thinking that they'll never build out much further that that. WRONG. All of the cool places to fish, ride dirtbikes/atv's GONE. You can't even go out in the middle of nowhere and shoot a firearm, unless you know for a fact no one will hear or see you. This state (at least the southern end of it) its just crap now.

I'm pretty much stuck here unless I can find a job that pays what mine does now, elsewhere. Its such a crummy feeling to hate where you live. I hope someone fixes the way things are being done in this country when it comes to who can live/develop in what areas. I mean, yeah we have national parks, but what good are they when the surrounding areas get so polluted and congested, that the park simply dies over time?

I know people want to live "in it" but when are people going to realize that there are limits to what nature can deal with. Eventually we'll end up like China where some rivers and lakes are so polluted that you are 90% likely to get some sort of cancer just by walking along the banks.

Pigeon forge is pretty much an abomination, and Gatlinburg is close to it. Why do people think I come to the mountains to see a haunted house, or Ripley's beleive it or not crap? If I wanted to go see sharks, I would go to Seaworld, or the Keys. Whomever is or was in charge of planning Gatlinburg, really does not care about what they are doing. Why didn't they keep it tasteful? Who comes to the mountaints and says "oh man it was beautiful hiking to Abrams falls today, I can't wait to go to Gatlinburg and go to the aquarium, and also pigeon forge to ride some go-karts!" ? Simply rediculous...

We stay in wears valley when we visit, and its OK, but when i was last in townsend, I thought it was a nice, clean town. It would be a shame to lose it to idiot planning, and turned into a tourist trap.

The government needs to start saying NO to these people, developers, etc, and protect what few last untainted wilderness (and its surrounding areas) we have before its too late. I know people need places to live, and open up buisnesses, but enough is enough.

Anway, I get worked up over this stuff, thanks for reading.

01-30-2008, 02:40 PM
I applaud Byronís efforts to preserve Townsend and the areas aesthetics. As for as Cades Cove I believe every one has the right to enjoy it but the traffic does get bad and when all you want to do is get to Abrams creek to fish it gets frustrating. Maybe there should be more places for people to stop and get out of traffic so the flow would be a little steadier.

But when it gets down to it you can not please every one and I do not wish to see much restriction on access. How to achive some balance is a difficult question.

01-30-2008, 02:45 PM
I was on my way back home to the tri-cities from Chattanooga last Friday and decided to cut through Maryville instead of driving through Knoxville. In Maryville my car made a right hand turn and started toward Townsend, I hadn't been to Cades Cove in several months and I couldn't resist being this close. I entered the Cove at about 4:30 PM. I saw very little traffic, but I did count 101 deer from the entrance to the Abrams Creek parking lot. I think that Cades Cove is the most beautiful place on earth. And in answer to my own question in another thread, if I could only fish one creek it would be Abrams, above the falls. I can't imagine not being able to drive there. Yes there are certain times of the year that I can't imagine trying to drive there, but I just avoid those times. I know it will never happen, but I think they need to create a parking lane the entire length of the loop, 45 degree parking on the right hand side. And strictly enforce the no stopping in the road policy. I would rather drive past empty parking space or look over parked cars that wait in line thirty minutes for everyone in front of you to take pictures of wildlife that is no longer even there by the time you get to the spot. At the very least, create more parking in prominant spots. During the busy season there simply isn't enough parking. It seems that most of the wildlife viewing is toward the center of the cove and if you created parking primarily on the right the parked cars wouldn't block the view for those who just want to keep moving. Crowded or not I still want to drive Cades Cove and I want to have access to Abrams Creek. And just as I am about to finish with my 2 cents worth, I realize that I hope they never finish the "road to nowhere" on the North Carolina side. What's the difference? I think it is because one is already there. We just need to find a way to make it better.
My 2 cents,

Byron Begley
01-30-2008, 04:35 PM
MtnMike, I sent you an e-mail.

Everyone Else,

There is a task force made up of several organizations and individuals who are looking into alternative transportation options to enter the Park from Townsend. It sounds like the National Parks Conservation Association is leading the charge. Today's ride in a hybrid bus was sponsored by that task force. Most of the 20 passengers were from various government agencies in our area and some people who are just citizens. Bob Miller who is the information officer from the Park was on board. Bill Claybough, director of the Foothills Land Conservancy sat behind me. I was invited because I am Chair of Tourism and Travel for the Blount County Chamber. The goal of this group is to offer clean mass transit from Townsend to the Park and to destinations within. The money is available now through a corporate grant. Of course today there were only three cars in the Cove that I could see. It was a nice experience to just sit and watch. We also had a Cades Cove expert describing the cove and the former residents. The Citibus runs on batteries most of the time and a Chevrolet Vortec engine kicks in when needed. It was quiet and comfortable. Gatlinburg and Cherokee both have shuttle buses for tourists to use.

I don't think, at least during my lifetime that the Cove or the Park will be closed to traffic. People here won't let that happen. Also, the residents who were displaced when the Park was formed were promised that they would never be charged to enter the Park. I would like to see an entrance fee and a fishing fee to help fund the Park but it doesn't look like it will happen, at least for a while.

The loop road around the cove is in bad repair. Bob Miller told me that it was in the budget to resurface the road in 2009.


01-30-2008, 05:30 PM
Hey Byron,
Thanks for the e-mail.

I imagine that it was pretty nice to just sit back and let someone take you around the cove. It would be pretty cool to go around with an expert. November through January are actually some of my favorite months to visit Cades Cove.

01-30-2008, 05:49 PM
Buzz et al,

The link to the statistics and alternatives is at http://www.cadescoveplanning.com.

Click on "planning process" and then the submenu "alternatives".

The direct link is:


There are several documents there you can click on (about halfway down the page) with interesting statistics, background, and the alternatives.

Definitely a multi-faceted issue. It may be difficult or impossible to satisfy all the various interests. Personally I would have no trouble riding the tram to the Abrams trailhead. It would probably be quicker than driving most of the time and would make for a more tranquil experience for everyone (in my opinion!)


01-30-2008, 06:18 PM
Fellow fishers:
Have not been around the GSMNP all that much or long either, but I do remember when UK & UT would tee it up in the fall at Neyland in the '70's that often we would go to G-burg on Fri, drive to the game and back on Sat, and head for LEX on Sun. Any bets on making that round trip today? In those days, not all of the hotels were even open in NOV, and those open usually had a wing or two closed. Seen that lately? It is surely no coincidence that Sevierville and Gatlingburg are the same alliteration as Sodom and Gomorrah. Don't even think about responding to the spelling here. As one who from time to time represents both developers and homeowners, not at the same time, they do not fit in the same room, in land use matters, it should come as no surprise that zoning is easy, but planning is a bitch. If the time and effort can be put in the right place at the outset, the results are not that bad. But like everything American about government, often the result, like the Constitution, is both an experiment and a compromise.
All we can do is the best we can at the time necessary to do it. And remember, others never lie, but sometimes the truth changes. A Simple Country Lawyer who would rather fish and hunt birds. Watson

01-30-2008, 07:56 PM
Grumpy, You stated that if you cut out automobiles, you cut out funding. Is the park funded by traffic count, or were you just implying that with reduced visitors, the government wouldn't see a need for more funds?

It would fall on reduced visitors, that would also hurt the local economy.


01-30-2008, 11:07 PM
Yep...even though I'm now a "semi-native" of the area, as much as we've come up there, and as much as I get frustrated sitting in traffic trying to get from one end of the park to the other, and as much as I get frustrated with dumb tourists down here in the New Orleans area, you're right - the tourists pay the bills. Also, we have to remember the park belongs to everyone in the country, or at least the portion that pays taxes - and that includes the people who never leave their cars...although they're just cheating themselves of a great experience, IMO.

On the other hand, a small admissions fee could fund a number of projects, and I don't think people would mind paying - especially considering how much many of these people pay for the "attractions" of Gatlinburg, etc.

01-31-2008, 09:24 AM
Grumpy, Thanks, That's what I thought you meant, but in all honesty, I don't know how the governmant appropriates money to the different National Parks. They may just draw numbers out of a hat.

flydoc, Interesting stuff there. The Blount paper this morning had an article about it this morning. I'll have to absorb it some more before I come to any real opinions as to what I'd like to see them do. I know I don't want to see it stay the way it is. Alternative 2 wants road improvements and a sign that tells you how potentially miserable your trip is going to be. I wouldn't want to see them add more lanes. In 20 years from now as park visitation grows, are they going to have to 4 lane it? Talk about an eyesore and it would take away from the whole natural perspective of things. I think it was Alternative 3 that suggested a seperate bike/walk path. That would be nice, but then we're getting back to the adding more pavement and getting away from the natural aspects of it. Right now I do like Alternative 5 the best, but $66-$72 millon dollars!!! Where's that money going to come from? Are they going to have to cut other projects to come up with it? I'll have to do some more research before I come to any hard conclussions as to which I like best.

Byron Begley
01-31-2008, 10:11 AM
Here's a link to the article Buzz is talking about. Even though I was on that bus ride I didn't know the whole story until reading this. I do remember hearing about the 5 alternatives but it has been years. As I have stated I am not in favor of closing down Cades Cove to traffic. However what Mr. Boyd is trying to do seems good on the surface to me. I would visit the Cove more often if all I had to do is climb on this bus and pay a fee. To me it would be a nice break from work. But if I were going to Abrams Creek to fish I would want to drive.


FlyDoc, thanks for posting the links. I had not seen them before. I'll read it tonight. I've been thinking about this whole situation this morning. Maybe I wouldn't mind hopping on the bus to go fishing. Byron

Byron Begley
01-31-2008, 05:36 PM
Here is a link to the Conservation Fund website. Last night I watched a video that is offered for sale by them and it was amazing. It is called "The Dollars and Sense of Preserving Community Character". Mine is borrowed but I'm going to buy my own copy. The cost is $25. If you are involved with your community and care about it's future, this DVD by Edward McMahon is a "must have".