Boat store, service facility get initial OK on rezoning
Hearing scheduled for March 13
The fate of a proposed boat sales, service and storage facility on Andersonville Highway in Norris lies with the Norris City Council, which plans a public hearing and final vote on the necessary rezoning on Monday (March 13).
During the Feb. 13 council meeting, the council voted 5-0 and 3-2 to approve two separate rezoning ordinances on first reading for two tracts that would be used for the boat operation.
James and Jessica Broyles of Jacksboro want to move their LaFollette business, Big Creek Marine, to the new site, which is between Exit 122 Outdoor Power Equipment and Meadow View Senior Living on the south side of Andersonville Highway.
The key to the move, however, is approval of the rezoning of two parcels -- a 2.65-acre lot fronting on Andersonville Highway at Acuff lane to C-2 Commercial from its current P-1 (Professional and Civic) status, and a 5.5-acre lot behind it to L-1 (Light Industrial) from its current P-1.
James Broyles said the front lot would be the site of the company’s boat sales and service operation, while the back lot would be used for covered, secure year-round boat storage.
The rezoning request -- made by the current property owner, Clayton Holding Company – was given preliminary approval by the Norris Planning Commission on Feb. 6, but still needs final approval by the Norris City Council.
Broyles said that if the rezoning is approved, he plans to pay Clayton HC $800,000 for the property, then spend about $3 million to build the structures for the boat sales, service and storage operations.
“We would employ five to six people to start, and we would hope to be open before the end of the [coming] season,” he said.
A representative from Clayton, the Knoxville-based mobile home builder that has a manufacturing plant nearby, told the Planning Commission that the company has been “trying to sell this property for years.”
“Most of the property around it is commercial,” he said. “It is a commercial corridor. It could potentially generate a lot of revenue for the city of Norris.”
The two different zoning designations are necessary, however, because Norris doesn’t allow this type of storage facility in a C-2 zone, but is in the process of changing the L-1 zone to permit such storage units.
With the change to C-2, the front piece of property would be allowed to have the boat sales and service operations, but not storage.
But Mayor Chris Mitchell said during the Planning Commission meeting that he was “struggling” with rezoning the rear tract to L-1 because it could open it up to manufacturing later on if the boat business moves out.
“It’s not about the business,” said Mitchell, who represents the City Council on the Planning Commission. “I’m moving toward [voting] ‘no.’ I’m more open to C-2 than I-1.”
During the first reading of the zoning ordinance for the second tract, which would give it the industrial designation, Mitchell and Councilwoman Loretta Painter opposed it, making the vote 3-2.
Painter also had reservations about what might end up on the property if the boat facility were to close later.
“We’re wanting to come down there, we want to be part of that community,” James Broyles told The Courier News. “We’re not a huge company; we’re family owned and operated. We’ve already invested a lot of time and money to get where we are right now [with the move], and we’re ready to go. We’re funded.
“We just need to get the zoning changes, then submit our site plan to the city,” he said. “What we’re planning on doing is a full-blown dealership. We sell Veranda luxury pontoons and SeaPro boats and we’re a Suzuki and Yamaha dealer. We’ve been looking at 70 to 80 covered spaces for storage, and it would be all secured with gated entry.
“Once the project is done, we want people to think of us as an asset. We’re not going to be an eyesore. We sell high-end boats.”
The current location of Big Creek Marine is 153 Shanghai Road, which is off Demory Road in LaFollette. The company’s website is bigcreekmarine.com.