Monthly Archives: February 2021
Thank you Jesse Mayshark and Compass for excellent coverage of Knox County Planning.
We are sharing this Compass story as it is such a good teaching example of the planning process in Knox County. We were present last year when this project was on the agenda. On that occasion a large number of North Knoxville residents had assembled to once again oppose a project, previously considered and declined, they felt was not in the interest of the community. As I recall, the developer withdrew the proposal late that evening – after the residents had waited a very long time to be heard.
We regret the story images will not display here.
Building on Beverly’s Hills
Third time’s the charm at County Commission for a developer planning a subdivision on a steep and difficult site in North Knoxville.
BY JESSE FOX MAYSHARK • FEBRUARY 23, 2021
A ZONING MAP SHOWS THE PROPERTY (IN RED MARKER) WHERE DEVELOPER RANDY GUIGNARD PLANS TO BUILD HOUSING. (The map can be seen on the Knox County Planning website.)
Developer Randy Guignard had good reason to be ready for the objections raised by local residents Monday to his proposed new subdivision on the side of a ridge in North Knoxville: They had beaten him twice before.
So when attorney Charles Taylor, representing the surrounding neighborhoods, quoted former Knoxville-Knox County Planning Director Gerald Green calling it “the worst piece of property ever to come before” the Planning Commission, Guignard was prepared with a witness for the rebuttal: former Knoxville-Knox County Planning Director Gerald Green.
Calling in to Knox County Commission’s virtual meeting last night from Asheville, N.C., to which he returned after his retirement last year, Green told commissioners that Guignard’s project had been improved in many ways from when he first made that assessment.
“Yes, I did say that, but with more information we change our mind,” Green said. “This is a challenging site, but I believe that by accepting the challenges that this site presents, Mr. Guignard has developed a very feasible development plan.”
The endorsement, along with assurances offered by the developer, was enough for Guignard to finally win support for his project on Beverly Road after failing in 2018 and 2020. But just barely: Six of the 11 commissioners voted to support rezoning the property from industrial to planned residential use. Three voted against, including Commissioner Courtney Durrett — in whose 2nd District the property resides — and two abstained.
The rezoning will allow a density of up to 2.51 housing units per acre, which comes to 196 units across the 78-acre site. Neighbors had requested — and Durrett proposed — limiting development to 61 units, which is what the Planning Commission staff had originally recommended when Guignard proposed the subdivision.
But Guignard told commissioners there was no way he could turn a profit on fewer than 172 units. He warned that if his rezoning were rejected, he could be compelled to put the property to its zoned industrial use.
“The land can be used for parking lots and storage areas for materials that could include but are not limited to tires, asphalt shingles, building materials, scrap cars, parts, and more,” Guignard said.
The two tracts Guignard owns sit on the north side of a ridge that runs along Washington Pike and Beverly Road, behind the shopping center that includes Target and Old Navy. Their lower portion includes a stretch of Whites Creek and its floodplain. The site immediately north of Interstate 640 is in an odd pocket just outside Knoxville city limits but effectively surrounded by city territory.
Guignard bought the properties in 2018 for a combined $560,000 and has been trying to develop them ever since. Neighbors have argued that development on the site will exacerbate flooding problems along Whites Creek and further downstream.
“The flooding doesn’t just affect Whites Creek, because Whites Creek runs into First Creek and then it goes down Broadway,” Taylor, the attorney representing the surrounding neighbors, said. “Neighborhoods miles away are going to suffer from this development.”
But Guignard said he will not build in the floodplain, and he plans to donate 16 acres along the creek to Legacy Parks Foundation. He said the organization is interested in developing a natural stormwater conservation area similar to the county’s Roy Arthur Stormwater Park in West Knox County.
“This land donation also includes a walking trail easement located on the ridge top that leads to shopping and to Knox County parks,” Guignard said. The property is close to the county’s New Harvest Park on Washington Pike.
Also speaking on Guignard’s behalf, former Knox County stormwater director Chris Granju said the developer’s plans for flood mitigation are forward-looking, with an emphasis on infiltration and capturing stormwater on site via pervious pavers and other methods.
“What’s being proposed is something different than the usual development that folks are used to seeing in Knox County,” Granju said.
Legally, development cannot increase the amount of runoff from a piece of property. Granju said Guignard’s project will meet that standard. The plans were sufficient to win a 13-0 vote of approval from the Planning Commission last month.
Commissioner Terry Hill said she had visited the site and been impressed with Guignard’s plans.
“It did not take five minutes once I was back on the property to recognize number one, what a beautiful piece of property it is,” she said. “But also how much it truly does level and flatten.”
But Durrett, who noted that she grew up watching frequent flooding in the Fairmont-Emoriland neighborhood along First Creek, said Guignard’s assurances did not satisfy her constituents. Groups that came out against the project included Fountain City Town Hall and the neighborhood associations of Tazewell Pike-Beverly Station, Fairmont-Emoriland, Alice Bell/Spring Hill and Oakwood-Lincoln Park.
“The community has really expressed their concerns about the flooding that this can potentially cause and exacerbate the current flooding that is there right now,” Durrett said.
She made a motion to allow only 61 units on the site, but that was trumped by a substitute motion by Commissioner Carson Dailey to approve the 196 units recommended by the Planning Commission.
Voting to approve the rezoning were Dailey, Hill, and commissioners Dasha Lundy, Randy Smith, Charles Busler and Chair Larsen Jay. Joining Durrett in opposition were Vice Chair John Schoonmaker and Commissioner Justin Biggs. Commissioners Kyle Ward and Richie Beeler abstained.
Summary of Saturday meeting on Ebenezer parcel.
The meeting was well attended.
*Holrob, the proposed developer provided a tent, hot beverages, a communications sign up sheet, displays and a presentation on their plans.
*Mark Shipe, President of Holrob Realty outlined their plan for small shops and restaurants and welcomed questions and comments.
*Also in attendance was David Reynolds , President of Home Federal Bank, owner of the parcel.
*The parcel (except for a “sliver”)is zoned for neighborhood commercial development
*Home Federal has owned the parcel for many years and has maintained it and allowed community use. They have had the property for sale for many years.
*Mr. Reynolds told the group Home Federal intends to sell the property now and of the offers received the Holrob plan was by far the most compatible with the community and that was why they were chosen – based on their reputation and their other developments in the local community.
*Weigels Corporation previously owned the property and planned a convenience store gas station.
*A long time resident of Bexhill told the group the parcel was owned by the Bexhill developer prior to Weigels and that he intended to develop it for commercial use, something he explained to the early residents.
*A resident asked whether it would be possible for residents to purchase the property for use as a park. Mr. Reynolds said HF has granted an option to Holrob and they would need to honor that. Mr. Shipe said Holrob has a significant investment they would seek to recoup.
*Several residents addressed aspects of the plan and asked if changes would be considered. Mr. Shipe said he welcomes good ideas and looks forward to working with the neighborhood on a plan the complies with the zoning and is workable for Holrob.
The notice below appears to be for the Ebenezer Drive parcel now showing signage indicating a planned commercial use (shops). So it appears the developer(s) are requesting a change of zoning from residential use.
Meeting at 2:00 today at the property. Typically the Planning Commission urges developers to meet with area residents in advance of such requests. Their attorneys often use that as an argument at zoning meetings – residents were aware. So we urge you to be aware – present with good questions and prepared to take good notes.
Today at 2:00 there is a meeting regarding the open Ebenezer Road parcel (used as soccer field, etc.) across from Bluegrass Animal Hospital at the entrance to Bexhill (?) subdivision., near Bluegrass School, Bennington, Farrington and other neighborhoods.
Per a private sign on the property there is a plan to locate shops there.
Turn out if you can to find out what is planned.
Let’s give ’em something to talk about…
If enough of us put up cameras we can stop our little crime spree in it’s tracks. Let’s send these offenders for a chat with a good criminal defense attorney who will explain his/her fee schedule. When our culprits are startled, the legal professional may suggest signing over title to any property or alternatively getting on the waiting list for the public defender’s office. Or he/she may suggest a vacation at an addictions treatment facility. Let’s get those cameras in place and help redirect someone’s life.
We have had a request from the Keller Bend area.
They had a home break-in last night or early this morning. A door lock was beaten in and a wood splitter was taken from a Keller Bend Road home. They ask us to be on alert with them and to be aggressive both in watching and reporting activity.
No question we have home intruders/thieves working in our area. We now have reliable reports from Tedford Rd., Tooles Bend Road, Amberleigh, Rocky Hill and Riverbend.
On Tuesday morning, just after a family member pulled out for work I heard music, apparently a car radio immediately outside my garage door. I had just come in from my deck collecting bird feeders. It appears I startled someone, as by the time I could get to an upstairs window to look down on the driveway no car was visible, however, a nearby dog was barking.
One neighborhood has their eye on a potential suspect but doesn’t want to give out any details at this time.
215-2444 is the non-emergency number for the Sheriff’s Dept. They and our neighbors ask that we report any suspicious activity, for example, an unknown car trolling or parked, anyone walking that you don’t recognize, a dog barking that doesn’t often bark. I would also suggest more lighting at night as several events have been at night.
I have installed additional motion sensor lights. Got the last ones at Lowes for only about $20. each They are LED solar and work great. Very easy to install as they don’t require wiring. Cameras are even better.
As always, be cautious, be alert, first of all, however, be safe, call for help.
Thank you to the many of you who have asked to join NCA.
We are not a membership organization. We are volunteers who study our community issues, share concerns and take action when needed.
To be a part of us just check in here as we share information.
We do ask for contributions to allow us to pay the legal fees we incur in taking our issues to court. That is the way you can help most. Please send your gift directly to Kramer Rayson law firm . Notation: NCA at PO Box 629, Knoxville, TN 37901
Thank you. Together we can keep our neighborhoods safe and attractive.
One of our excellent volunteers spotted a piece of legislation starting to move through Nashville that may merit attention. Our group has learned to be vigilant for backdoor moves that enable developers to work around the approvals process. This one may bear watching as it seems to open the door for alternative sewerage treatment options that may not be in the public’s interest.
Here is the post.
“… not sure what this means, but it doesn’t sound good – “
HB147 ENVIRONMENT & NATURE: Water quality – powers of department of environment and conservation.
Sponsors: Rep. Zachary, Jason
Summary: Prohibits the department of environment and conservation from requiring any permit, inspection, review, or approval of plans for the construction, installation, or modification of any land application system that the board of water quality, oil and gas is authorized to incentivize by rule as part of a system of incentives for alternatives to discharges to surface waters, including a land application system qualifying as a public sewerage system. Broadly captioned.
Fiscal Note: (Dated January 12, 2021) NOT SIGNIFICANT
House Status: 02/01/21 – Referred to House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Caption: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 3, Part 5; Title 7, Chapter 35; Title 65 and Title 69, relative to water quality.
Please help us keep an eye on this one.
ALERT. Reliable neighbor/NCA followers have sent us information over the past two weeks of several alarming incidents along Tooles Bend and Tedford Roads. At least two homes have been entered and one home completely emptied by burglars.
In other incidents, individuals were seen on or in properties. There has been a sighting of a young white male, dressed seemingly inappropriately for the weather (impaired?) walking about neighboring property (reconnaissance?).
We urge you to be vigilant and to report anything you may see to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department. The deputies ask us to report ANYTHING suspicious to them. Don’t worry about annoying them. What may seem irrelevant to you could be the one observation that helps them knit together a case. Don’t expect feedback from the deputies. They won’t give out information that could damage a case in the making or cast false suspicion. They are also very busy keeping us safe.
We also urge you to talk to your neighbors and watch each other’s homes and vehicles.