Dry Hollow neighbors battle Thunder Mountain

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk, South Knox

Brad Russell is a lifelong resident of the Dry Hollow area of deep South Knox County. The Russells are cattle farmers, and together with his dad, Brad has leased pasture on property now proposed for 255 homes adjacent to their farm.

Thunder Mountain Properties LLC has a sector plan amendment and rezoning on Knox County Commission’s February agenda. The limited liability corporation is based in LaFollette and appears to be connected with Dixie Roofing.

Brad Russell has a petition with 700 signatures of folks who don’t want the development. The Knox Planning Commission has a file with 80 letters. (I spotted just two that supported the development.)

Thunder Mountain requested the sector plan amendment based on recent improvements to Chapman Highway near the 8802 Sevierville Pike property. Planning commissioners agreed, voting 14-0 to amend the plan. (KnoxTNToday published Lee Muller’s talk to Knox County Commission here. Muller said the county should enforce the sector plans rather than allow for “spot” rezonings.)

The Planning Commission then voted 10-4 to rezone for up to 2.5 dwelling units per acre on a 64-acre tract and up to one dwelling unit per acre on a 95-acre tract, “a total of 255 units with development concentrated on the flatter part of the property.”

Brad Russell and his neighbors have formed the Dry Hollow Community Group to fight the rezoning. One resident submitted photos showing clear cutting in the so-called protected area with trees, dirt and general debris piled into gullies and possible wet-weather streams. Photos are here.

Russell said current land use is roughly one house for two acres. The higher density sought by Thunder Mountain is “not consistent with current density.” He said Knox-Chapman Utility District would have to install three pumps to move sewage through the hilly terrain to a treatment plant that was built in 1999.

Planners anticipate 100 or so new students in Knox County Schools once the 255 homes are built out. The land is zoned for New Hopewell Elementary School and South-Doyle middle and high schools.

Planners estimate the development would add 4,369 average vehicle trips per day along either Sevierville Pike, which has a width of 18-feet with a 60-feet right-of-way, or Dry Hollow Road, a local street with a pavement width of 15 feet and a R-O-W width of 50 feet.

This rezoning was postponed at the developer’s request until February. Russell thinks he’s “trying to wear us out,” but with the county elections looming commissioners may be hesitant to approve such an unpopular proposal.

Lee Muller said each new house built in an area where infrastructure is not adequate costs the county $5,000 a year. Maybe Lee Muller should run for county commission. Or Brad Russell.

This ‘n’ that
  • Speaking of county elections, the deadline to turn in a qualifying petition is noon Thursday, Feb. 17. The primary is Tuesday, May 3, and the county general election is Aug. 4.
  • Bob Fischer called from the Preservation Pub to say that he had turned in his qualifying petition to run in the Democratic Primary for county mayor. Bob said he decided to run because he “either had to fight or go sit in the stands.”
  • District 7 has had two drops – Cameron Ward is not running for the school board, and Judson Mason is not running for county commission.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *