By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Tribal Council approved a proposal, during Budget Council on Tuesday, Feb. 5, to purchase about 122 acres of land in Sevier County, Tenn., land Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed suggested could be used for economic development, whether it’s done for gaming or other commerce purposes. He said land purchases are a good economic investment.
The property is located just off of Interstate 40’s exit 407, the exit for Winfield Dunn Parkway, a main route for Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. According to the resolution submitted by the Lands Acquisition Committee, the owners were asking for a price that was 28 percent below appraised value. The property appraised at about $10.5 million, and property owners were asking for about $7.5 million, the committee stated. “It is at a fraction of what the surrounding and adjoining properties are,” Chief Sneed said. “This is a great opportunity for economic development in that region.”
Bills currently are being considered in Tennessee to allow for sports betting. However, the chief isn’t optimistic that any kind of gambling will become legal in Tennessee. Regardless of the status of gaming, the committee argued that the land purchase is a good investment. It asserts that exit has the highest traffic count in the state. The property is directly behind the Tennessee Smokies Minor League Baseball stadium. It’s adjacent to a retail center that includes a Bass Pro Shop. It’s also in an area zoned for commercial development. “The land is an outstanding commercial property that can be developed in other ways,” the chief said.
Chairman Adam Wachacha and Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle also supported the purchase. Owle said the property was in a high traffic area, and it could be a plus to the tribe if gaming were a possibility. “I think it’s a great price.” Wachacha said, “I believe it’s a good move.” The purchase passed unanimously by those present. Yellowhill Rep. Tom Wahnetah and Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe were absent.