Marion County road regulations will cost developer millions - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Marion County road regulations will cost developer millions

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

A developer in Marion County is moving forward with his plans to build a multi million dollar development despite some setbacks with the county.

Developer John "Thunder" Thornton heads the Jasper Highlands project on top of Jasper Mountain. He recently asked the Marion County Planning Commission to drop their current asphalt regulation of four inches down to two.

"We asked them really to consider the economic impact of their decision of doubling it because it doubles the cost of the road," says Thornton.

Every county surrounding Marion County requires two inches or less, even the cities inside Marion County require just two inches.

Planning Commissioner Phil Smith says the county changed its regulations in 2010 because mountain roads could not handle heavy trucks for development. However, Commissioner Neal Webb admits there hasn't been any new county roads built since then.

"That's the law, we'll respect that no question," Thornton says.

He'll spend close to $3 million just to pave the roads.

"It really won't contribute anything at all to the quality but it will double the cost of the road," says Thornton. "It will impact the pricing as we move forward."

Thornton is fully committed to his project but says other developers have looked elsewhere because of the county's asphalt regulation.

"It's just something that will hamper, stunt economic development and growth in this county. We don't need any of that," Thornton says.

Commissioner Smith says while economic times have changed he agrees the county's regulations could deter new development and they're now looking at different asphalt alternatives to help save costs.

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