Road upgrades ahead; Berry Patch rezoning OK’d

Sandra ClarkHalls

Knox County intends to improve intersections on Andersonville Pike at Hill and McCloud roads. Cindy Pionke, an engineer with the county’s Department of Engineering and Public Works, said Thursday that a consultant has been hired to study improvements and money for construction has been requested for the fiscal year that starts July 2018.

Pionke reacted to Halls residents who opposed Bryan Petett’s request to rezone the Fruit and Berry Patch on McCloud Road to develop a subdivision of up to 132 single family homes. The Metropolitan Planning Commission recommended that Knox County Commission rezone the land for up to 3.5 dwelling units per acre.

Property owner Dennis Fox said he had hoped the Fruit and Berry Patch would continue forever, but his children do not want to carry on the business. Health issues prevent him from doing so.

Thomas Hollenbeck, who lives on Stillbrook Lane across from the Fox property, had organized a community meeting which Shannon Carey reported here. On Thursday, Hollenbeck requested a traffic study for all of McCloud Road and a traffic signal at the new subdivision entrance, which will be built across from the entrance to Stillbrook.

Gerald Green, MPC executive director, said a traffic study is required for all developments of 75 or more units.

Sue Maniez echoed Pionke, saying she had just come from Mayor Tim Burchett’s office, “and he will come to the Halls Senior Center and speak about traffic plans on McCloud Road.”

Anne Victoria said she was not opposed to the development but wants a sidewalk on McCloud Road since “the Berry Patch is within the parental responsibility zone of three schools.” That means no school bus service. Pionke said sidewalks would be part of the intersection projects and would be required within the new subdivision itself. There is no current plan to provide additional sidewalks on McCloud Road.

A representative of Peterson Place requested a buffer with the Berry Patch property. Petett said he will leave “a large buffer on the back of the property.”

The developer drew praise from MPC commissioner Laura Cole because he had met with the neighbors prior to the MPC meeting.

“I learned through Facebook that a neighborhood meeting was planned, so I went to learn of concerns,” Petett said. “Traffic is a major concern.”

Petett had requested five units per acre, but said he could live with 3.5. MPC staff had recommended three. Petett must get MPC and commission approval for his site plan before he can start development. “Our maximum will not exceed 132 units, and it could be less,” he said.

Dennis Fox got the last word: “We’ll have 500-600 cars every day in the summer (buying produce). You won’t have that much traffic with this subdivision.”

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