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JASPER, Tenn. — For the last 18 months, the Marion County Planning Commission has been reviewing its subdivision regulations to see if there was a way to stimulate growth.

At the July meeting of the Marion County Commission, County Mayor David Jackson said the planning commission recommended several changes, but some board members questioned an adjustment to the road standards.

"We're going to reduce the [required] 4 inches of asphalt back to 2 [inches]," Jackson said. "We hope that will spur some other growth with smaller developments."

He said roads in subdivisions must have an 8-inch gravel base.

The board voted 10-4 to approve the changes.

Commissioner Matt Blansett voted against the changes and questioned why they were needed.

"Everybody else, just about, in the state of Tennessee is at 2 inches," Jackson replied. "That's the reason some of these developers couldn't make the dollars work for these smaller 10- or 12-lot subdivisions."

Commissioner Donald Blansett said he has discussed road standards with people all over the state, and they all said the road's base is much more important that its surface.

"We were arguing over 4 inches of asphalt, but if the base is not properly done, it wouldn't matter if you put 6 inches of asphalt," he said. "It probably never would stay."

Commissioner Joey Blevins also voted against changing the regulations and said a county employee told him last year 2 inches of asphalt wasn't "sufficient."

"That's who educated me on it, so I don't know," he said.

In the past, some Marion subdivision roads with 4 inches of asphalt have needed to be redone because the base was not properly installed, Jackson said.

Commissioner James Hawk said the type of asphalt used could make a big difference, too.

"If you don't have the right amount of compaction, you could put down 5 inches [of asphalt], and it wouldn't matter," he said. "You can put down tar and gravel on a good surface."

Other changes to the regulations include requiring use of a licensed engineer to build mountain road, the installation of fire hydrants to help the fire ratings for rural fire departments, and some small modifications to easement standards.

Additionally, approved plats will be recorded so no further changes may be made after the planning commission has acted.

"We haven't had a problem with that here," Jackson said. "It's just to help us in the long run."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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