A groundswell of concerned residents will be back in front of the Metropolitan Planning Commission on Thursday, Sept. 13, as the MPC considers the concept plan / use on review for a 621-home development on the old Bailey Farm on Tooles Bend Road.
The proposed Post Oak Bend development was originally on the MPC agenda in August. More than 100 supporters of the Northshore Corridor Association attended the MPC meeting on Aug. 9, where staff recommended a postponement to the September meeting.
The 415-acre property is on the Tooles Bend peninsula off of Northshore Drive. It includes almost four miles of undeveloped lakefront shore. It was first zoned residential in 1993, with a recommendation of one to three dwelling units per acre.
The density for the property for the current proposal is 2.39 du/ac. It would include 260.51 developed acres, with a mix of stacked-flat condos, attached residential lots and detached residential lots. There would be four miles of sidewalks and trails and 11.75 acres of parks and amenities.
On the Sept. 13 agenda, MPC staff recommends approval of the concept plan subject to 20 conditions, which include implementing street and intersection improvements covered in the Level II traffic study prepared by CDM Smith. There would be a signal at the intersection of Northshore and Tooles Bend, with the cost shared by Knox County and the developer. A sewage treatment facility, land provided by the developer, will be built and approved by First Utility District before a final subdivision plat is approved. The utility will also install any required upgrades to existing water lines.
The conditions don’t adequately address the residents’ most pressing concern, which is road safety, says Northshore Corridor Association spokesperson Diane Montgomery. The group wants a study that would assess the impact of the built-out development on Northshore Drive and Tooles Bend Road and connectors Tedford Lane and Badgett Road.
“We really feel that the Level III traffic study is something the MPC should require of the developer,” Montgomery says. Her organization has offered to fund such a study.
MPC staff has said the appropriate level of review has been done.
In a letter to Bryan Spears, also a spokesperson for the Northshore Corridor Association, MPC executive director Gerald Green wrote that because the traffic study included all access points to Tooles Bend Road, including an intersection that was not required, “it would equate to a Level III study.”
The organization has gained a knowledgeable ally in Wes Stowers, who was an MPC commissioner from 2008- 2014. The existing traffic study, Stowers wrote to commissioners, “… is too narrowly scoped for a high-density project of this magnitude, for which Tooles Bend provides the only access.”
Stowers wrote, “The projected five-fold increase in traffic cannot be supported by the existing road and would create serious safety issues and unacceptable congestion.”
Stowers, who lives off of Tooles Bend Road on Inlet Drive, has stated that he supports the right of the property owners to develop their property but wants safety to be paramount.
No one is against development, Montgomery says.
“We just want smart development that works for everyone,” she says. “We are hopeful that a strong outpouring from the community at Thursday’s MPC meeting, with an effective presentation from our spokespersons, will be persuasive with the MPC commissioners.”
The MPC meeting takes place at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Main Assembly Room at the City County Building, 400 Main Street. Commissioners are also slated to consider a rezoning request, from agricultural to residential, for 17 acres next to Dunbarton Oaks, just a couple of miles east of Tooles Bend on Northshore. The staff’s recommendation on that project is four du/ac, down from the developer’s request for five du/ac.
For more information about the MPC meeting and to view an agenda, visit https://knoxmpc.org/agenda/