On the winding and bumpy roads of the Parrott's Chapel community along Douglas Lake, the mailing address is Sevierville. The closest schools are in Sevier County. Residents cannot drive anywhere without going through Sevier County.
Yet, the people of Parrott's Chapel actually live in Jefferson County. Many would like that to change.
"It is just a remote area that was cut off from the rest of Jefferson County when the dam was built," said Sharon Wagner, a Parrott's Chapel homeowner. "We want to have a fair discussion about the possibility of leaving Jefferson County and joining Sevier County."
When TVA built Douglas Dam in the early 1940s, it flooded farmland that connected Parrott's Chapel to the rest of Jefferson County. Now the community is on a peninsula on the south side of the lake while almost all the county's vital services are on the north side of Douglas Lake.
"The ambulances come usually from Dandridge and have to come around [the lake]. They will park on the south side, but sometimes get called away to the north side of the lake. It is an issue of public safety," said Wagner.
The other issue is the location of schools. Elementary students have to travel nearly 20 miles to Dandridge when New Center Elementary School in Sevier County is only 4 miles away. Likewise, Jefferson County High School is three times as far away as Sevier County High School.
"The students want to feel like they live in a community where they actually belong. You don't have that kind of participation in school activities when it takes you and hour and a half to drive to school and back," said Wagner.
Wagner says although residents in Parrott's Chapel generates sizable property tax revenue due to the large amount of lakefront property, she does not feel like Jefferson County invest a proportionate amount back in the community.
"We are paying taxes, but we get very little in return. The roads are in awful condition. Garbage is also an issue. We cannot use the closest convenience center in Sevier County for our trash," said Wagner. "We had someone break into our house once. It took the officers 45 minutes to get there. He was extremely nice and apologized for the long response time. It was not his fault. He had to drive around the whole lake to get to our place."
The community effort to leave Jefferson County recently picked up steam when tens of thousands of dollars were cut from the Parrott's Chapel Fire Department while many other departments in the county received an increase in funding.
In August, nearly 200 people attended a community meeting. The overwhelming majority expressed a desire to explore how to leave Jefferson County and join Sevier County.
The office of Sevier County mayor Larry Waters told 10News the county would be happy to discuss the possibility of adding Parrott's Chapel, but there is nothing it can do without approval from the Jefferson County commission.
Wagner says some Jefferson County commissioners have been willing to hear their concerns, but others are unwilling to entertain any possibility of letting Parrott's Chapel leave.
"Some are interested in our concerns. Others are concerned only with the possibility of lost tax revenue," said Wagner. "We asked for a study so we can have data to have an honest discussion. We want to know how much money Parrott's Chapel generates for the county. We want to know how much does the county spend for services in Parrott's Chapel. We'd like to know what the potential cost would be to the county if it allowed Parrott's Chapel to separate, so we can try to figure out ways to offset any losses."
In September, the Jefferson County Commission voted against gathering the information for the sake of discussing the proposal to cede Parrott's Chapel. Wagner said she remains hopeful they can get the data from the county mayor.
"We don't yet have that data. The mayor said he would try to get it to us through his department heads, but we don't have it yet," said Wagner. "Our state representative, Andrew Farmer, was receptive to the issues we're facing. The data could help us work on a proposal that may involve the state helping with the process and the costs."
WBIR 10News contacted Jefferson County Mayor Alan Palmieiri on Tuesday morning to get his perspective on the issues facing Parrott's Chapel. As of Tuesday night, WBIR has not received a response.
For now, and the foreseeable future, Parrott's Chapel remains an isolated piece of lakefront property in Jefferson County. People here will keep trying to get equal services or determine a way to convince their home county to cut them loose for the convenience of Sevier County.
"We only want what is fair," said Wagner.