A proposed residential development on Beverly Road hit a major speed bump when Knox County Commission postponed voting on developer Randy Guignard’s plan to build a subdivision on the side of a steep ridge with a flood-prone creek at the bottom.
Although Guinard’s rezoning request sailed through the Metropolitan Planning Commission process on a 9-5 vote in March, he met tough questions and considerable neighborhood resistance at commission Monday. Second District Commissioner Michele Carringer, who represents the area, questioned him at length before telling him she would not vote for his project at this time.
“I have known nothing but flooding in that area. … I cannot say I can go forward with this tonight with a clear conscience,” she said, moving to postpone the vote. She suggested the developer meet with the community before coming back for another try.
MPC’s vote ignored its professional staff’s recommendation to deny the developer’s request and Commissioner Carson Dailey questioned the MPC board’s basis for amending the North County Sector Plan (plan amendments must be based on one of four reasons: introduction of significant new roads or utilities, an obvious or significant error or omission, changes in government policy or new trends in development, population or traffic).
“What is the legal reason?” he asked. “What has changed?”
Jamie Rowe, who lives on nearby Tazewell Pike and fears increased traffic dangers if the subdivision is built, said that MPC’s legal reason for amending the sector plan – a “significant omission” – was in error, since the North County Sector Plan specifically mentioned the parcel in question and designated it Agricultural, which means it cannot support more than one dwelling unit per acre.
“This particular piece of property is specifically mentioned in the North Sector Plan,” she said, directing the commissioners to the page and paragraph where the Beverly Road property is mentioned.
Commissioner Hugh Nystrom asked how Guignard would protect the steep slope and called the 88-acre tract, “about the biggest dog I’ve ever seen.”
In addition to the flooding problems, which include downstream danger to Fountain City and the Broadway corridor, Carringer cited traffic woes on Beverly Road and Tazewell Pike that will be multiplied by traffic from a new subdivision.
Commissioner Charles Busler questioned having only one entrance to the subdivision.
“You cannot landlock a piece of property like this,” he said, asking Guignard if he planned an access road from the backside of the property.
This drew a shouted protest from the owner of the property on the backside of the proposed subdivision.
“We don’t need a stub road on our land,” said James McMillan, whose historic family farm adjoins the land Guignard is proposing to buy from property owner Ray H. Jenkins.
The matter will be heard again in May.