Planning notes and woes

Sandra ClarkKarns/Hardin Valley, Powell

Knoxville Knox County Planning kicked to July two controversial issues at its June 9 meeting.

Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ proposal to eliminate the right to appeal use-on-review decisions to the county’s Board of Zoning and Appeals was deferred. Former law director and retired chancellor Mike Moyers offered a compromise which seemed acceptable to Jacobs and citizen opponents. Moyers promised a written draft which we will review when it’s available.

Belltown, a proposed development on W. Emory Road, was presented by Josh Sanderson of Smithbilt. Thursday’s presentation was a preview with no votes taken.

The development sprawls across Emory Road near Washington Heights on the north side, extending into Anderson County; the south side is bounded by Beaver Creek and is near Bridgefield Drive. The preliminary proposal: Belltown

Belltown would put more than 1,100 dwellings on 300+ acres and would include apartments, townhouses, senior living, single-family homes and estate-sized homes – all different price points, said Sanderson.

A zoning challenge, in addition to the sheer number of dwellings, is Smithbilt’s desire for commercial property on the south side – restaurants and shops.

Sanderson said a boulevard would loop through the north side; homes would have front porches but no driveways. There would be on-street parking. Garages would be accessed off an alley. He anticipates 525 single-family homes on 215 acres, a density of just 2.4 homes per acre, he said.

On the south side, Smithbilt would donate land along Beaver Creek to Knox County for a park, perhaps with a dock for Beaver Creek access.

Rick Harbin addressed the planning group: “Emory Road is narrow and residents don’t want high density. … There are 300 acres of wildlife that we enjoy and will be displaced (with the development). … The land is 100% pervious now, but with the development will be 85% non-pervious, (generating run-off in an area that already floods). Give us a development we can live with.”

Smithbilt got softball questions and a generally favorable reaction from planning commissioners: Local company; we need more affordable housing, like the walkability with interior sidewalks.


Tim Hill

Tim Hill, co-founder and president of Hatcher-Hill Properties, is the new chair of Knoxville Knox County Planning, the organization that replaced MPC. Hill’s company develops commercial and mixed-use properties. A city appointee, his term is 2019-23.

Chris Ooten was elected vice chair. He is a former MPC staff planner who now is CEO of Safe Harbor Development, a private owner and operator of marinas in the Southeast. A county appointee, his term is 2016-24.

The outgoing chair is Patrick Phillips, retired executive director of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency. He holds a master’s degree in urban planning from UT and is a city-appointee whose term runs 2016-23.

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