Gatlinburg City Commission passes emergency ordinances to help residents rebuild

GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Gatlinburg City Commission held its first meeting since the wildfires Tuesday. The agenda focused primarily on ordinances that would allow residents to start rebuilding immediately.

“The changes to the Zoning Ordinance that were approved by City Commission at the meeting meeting do not exempt property owners from compliance with adopted building codes, flood regulations, and the requirements to obtain a building permit,” said Gatlinburg spokesperson Marci Claude.

Emergency Ordinance 2507 will allow temporary structures on site during construction and rebuilding.

“If someone is building a primary residence, they can have a temporary RV or camper of something like that, as long as it’s hooked up to water and sewer. As long as it’s hooked up to their home. We’re trying to give people every opportunity to build back as easy as they can,” said Mayor Mike Werner.

Ordinances 2506 and 2508 will ensure the emergency ordinances permit suspensions and provisions stay in place for two years. These ordinances were introduced on a first reading at the meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Werner says he is just starting the rebuilding process.

“We got our own home cleaned up. We’re working on floor plans and blueprints. We’re anxious to get back to the normality of Gatlinburg that we all know and love so much,” he said.

Some residents at the meeting were looking for answers, wanting to know more about the next steps of rebuilding.

“The city is doing a fantastic job to making that clear to all of us. I’ve never built a home before so this will be new to me,” said Michele Canney, Gatlinburg resident.

“I love Gatlinburg. I love being here. I would like to rebuild. I have a bridge over to my house that has to be rebuilt as well, I think I have to follow some probably pretty stringent regulations, but I would like to know what they are so I can move forward.”said Phyllis Seidel, who lost her home in the wildfires.

The commission also passed a resolution requesting the state adopt legislation regarding contents coverage of insurance policies.

City Manager Cindy Ogle said during the meeting, “We do not know that this is something the state legislature will do, but we certainly think it’s appropriate for the city.”

Residents with questions about rebuilding should call the Gatlinburg City Hall for more information, including demolition permits, at (865) 436-1400.

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