Townehomes at Beaver Brook: Jacobs should step up

Sandra ClarkHalls, Let's Talk

Earle Harrah and Joanne Lett say potential expansion of the Townehomes at Beaver Brook will fill in a wetland, hurting wildlife and increasing flooding.

Harrah is an IT project manager who works from his home on Masters Lane, off Emory Road in Halls. His land adjoins Beaver Creek with an expansive, forested backyard and steep drop-off to the creek. He mows a walking trail and says he’s seen as many as 15 deer in the evening.

“I’m not a tree-hugger, but I think it’s a disgrace” that the development might expand, he said. Currently, he won’t let his dog play in his backyard because the land is posted: “Caution. Water in this area may be contaminated by a temporary overflow of a sanitary sewer. Please avoid physical contact as it may pose a health risk.”

Lett has lived on Masters Lane for 18 years – in a house just west of Harrah’s. She’s been calling zoning and environmental regulators, trying to get information and help.

Jason Baker is the only human listed in an ownership string of limited liability companies owning the townehomes’ tract on Sunny Creek Way. The property changed hands in 2004, 2006, 2013, 2016 and 2017. Developer Victor Jernigan was connected initially and continues to own a lot on Masters Lane.

A call to Baker was not returned on Thursday. We’ll update the story after talking with him.

Lett’s research showed a Notice of Violation from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in August 2020, preventing Baker from adding fill for the expansion. Also, Knox County Stormwater is requiring him to stabilize the land by bringing in top soil. There’s a use-on-review sign posted, but it’s undated.

The buck stops with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who spent considerable time this week talking to kids about Constitution Day and narrating a video on Facebook.

“Freedom Forward” appears to call for armed resistance to unelected bureaucrats like the Knox County Board of Health, even though it’s empowered by the state legislature to enact rules and regs to keep citizens safe in a public health emergency.

People who don’t like government should get a real job and/or write editorials. People who win elections (even by 23 votes) to manage local government should do the gritty work of managing.

Earle Harrah, Joanne Lett and their neighbors deserve the peaceful use of their property.

  • Knox County should require the townehomes developer to repair county roads (Birdie, Sunny Creek) damaged by his trucks.
  • Knox County should ensure that townehomes already built and occupied are on solid ground.
  • Knox County should monitor the developer’s push to fill and build additional townehomes, making sure he complies with zoning and codes.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

The familiar townehomes in the distance are visible from Emory Road. The pile of gravel is part of the fill for proposed new construction.

What a mess in the backyard of the Townehomes at Beaver Brook. Beaver Creek is at the tree line at right rear.

The floodway is green, while the blue area is the flood zone. At the top left it appears to cover the proposed road where new townehomes are set to be built.

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