Another North Knox plan faces opposition

Betty BeanFeature, N/E Knox County

Homeowners from nearly a dozen neighborhoods downstream from the latest proposed Northeast Knoxville development showed up Monday night to quiz developer Steve Maddox about his plans to add 261freestanding houses and townhouses to the Legends at Oak Grove, a luxury apartment development whose entrance is on Washington Pike at the intersection of Mill Road.

The new phase is called the Legends at Washington Pike, and Maddox emphasized that he was not the developer of the earlier project, which got entangled in legal trouble during the building phase after a demolition contractor damaged the aquifer that that supplied the water for the farm next door.

Engineer Robert Campbell and developer Steve Maddox present their plan to the community.

Maddox said his development would actually improve the stormwater runoff problem in the area, and emphasized the increased tax revenue it would pour into Knox County’s coffers.

Many of those in the crowd spent the spring and early summer fighting a nearby development that would have been placed on Beverly Road, just west of Legends, but was stalled when the county commission failed to approve the necessary rezoning. Both sites are in the White’s Creek basin, which drains into the headwaters of First Creek, aggravating flooding along the Broadway corridor from Fountain City to the Broadway Shopping Center.

Residents of Summer Rose, Ritta, Beverly Road, Brookville, Oak Grove, Shannondale, Alice Bell, Smithwood, Fountain City, Emoriland, Oakwood and Lincoln Park came to the meeting to register their concerns about flooding, and traffic, as well. The most vocal critics were next-door neighbor James McMillan (representing the McMillan family farm) and KUB employee Arthur Parris, whose Beverly Road home has been under water many times in the past and who once rescued a little boy who had been swept out of a car by floodwaters.

“Hopefully, our City Council members will consider the public health and safety of the citizens who live above and below this site over the rights of the developer to maximize his profit,” said McMillan, who pointed out that Knox County government is planning a regional detention basin in the area, and has regulations in place to protect sink holes from runoff contamination.

“Aren’t people entitled to the same protection as sinkholes?” he asked.

Opponents have until Sept. 9 to appeal Metropolitan Planning Commission’s Aug. 9 vote to approve Maddox’s concept plan. There are several issues that will likely be mentioned. One is the traffic study commissioned by the original development calling for a right turn lane to be added to Washington Pike before any future expansion (this area is very congested).

The Legends property doesn’t have enough Washington Pike frontage to accommodate a turn lane, so Maddox must acquire some land from the next-door neighbor, the historic Oak Grove AME Zion Church, which is more than 100 years old and has a cemetery on site.

Maddox’ public relations rep Mike Cohen said his client would need only 300 square feet of church property for the turn lane.

“And it won’t be cheap,” said church member Sam Anderson.

Map showing location of proposed development (spelling by developer)

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