Nick Della Volpe surely can stir up controversy. Or perhaps Nick just points to controversy that others hope no one will notice. In writing about Knox County Commission’s agenda item regarding appeals to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Nick drew out letters from several readers, including Fountain City Town Hall and your favorite editor, me. The link to Nick’s original article is here.
Robert H. Thompson wrote first: “Thanks for shedding light on this! The BZA process is efficient and fast – much, much faster than going to court – and it has not been a real obstacle to residential development. … And as the article indicates, there is a serious likelihood that it violates state law establishing the authority of BZAs.”
Margaret Massey-Cox added: “If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. Mayor Jacobs isn’t a man of the people. He is a man for developers and the lawyers who will be the real winners if this passes on Monday. How many of us common folk can afford to pay for a legal battle to stop a cash-rich developer from ruining our property values?”
Dani Jones says: “The BZA works! But it works for the people’s interest not developers. …”
Bob Fischer posted: “The Mayor has clear conflicts of interest in this issue, as do several commissioners, Kyle Ward and (Justin) Biggs come to mind. This process has been highly unethical if not illegal. The citizens of Knox County deserve honest government.”
Sandra Clark posted, “There are many issues with Monday’s vote. For instance, the ordinance was amended substantially between the first and second readings. The amendment slid through the commission workshop July 18 with minimal discussion, the required public hearing is set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 25. And the final vote on second reading is scheduled for later that same night. What’s the rush, guys?”
Fountain City Town Hall weighs in
In a public letter to county commissioners, the board of Fountain City Town Hall Inc. asked them to deny the proposed ordinance.
“… Many citizens have already provided you with valid reasons to deny this amendment. We agree with their reasons and will not repeat them. Instead, we focus on the fact that the proposed amendment undermines the entire basis of the planned zoning districts.
“The required Development Plan is what differentiates planned zoning districts from non-planned districts. They are the guts of the planned zoning districts.
“Development Plans are not Subdivision Concept Plans. Development Plans are broader and more complex. Concept Plans are not part of the zoning ordinance. They are part of the jointly-adopted Knoxville-Knox County Subdivision Regulations.
“The planned districts are designed to provide the greatest amount of development flexibility in uses, setbacks, lot size, etc., unlike the fixed, rigid requirements of the conventional, non-planned zoning districts. In exchange for enormous flexibility, a Development Plan is required in the planned districts.
“For that reason, the review of the Development Plan was intended to be robust and to include broad public participation and discussion.
“To be clear, removing the right of citizens to appeal to a local administrative body is short-sighted. The quality of our community and the quality of development will suffer. Reducing public discourse is always regrettable.”
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.