Grassroots Group Mobilizes Against Dense Riverfront Development
Plans for a dense, 621-unit riverfront housing development off Toole’s Bend Road have spurred neighbors to create the Northshore Corridor Association, a grassroots organization representing 12 community groups. Its members are urging the Metropolitan Planning Commission to delay action on the concept until the community has a chance to fully review its impact.
The MPC is scheduled to review plans for Post Oak Bend — calling for stacked and connected condos to be built on the 421-acre Bailey Farm — at its Aug. 9 meeting.
“The community is largely unaware of the project,” said Bryan Spears, a spokesperson for the Northshore Corridor Association. “As people learn of it, mostly through word of mouth, they have many valid questions and serious concerns. The most immediate concern is the short timeframe before this development could potentially be approved.”
The last remaining large tract of undeveloped waterfront in West Knox County, the current 412-acre Bailey Farm features four miles of Fort Loudoun Lake frontage.
“We understand that the landowners have a right to develop their property,” Spears said. “But the proposal we’ve seen would radically increase traffic on an already dangerous road, strain existing infrastructure, create challenges for first responders and add to schools that are at or near capacity.”
The development would increase traffic on Tooles Bend and Tedford Roads far beyond current capabilities. In many places, these roads are less than 20 feet wide. According to documents filed with MPC, the developers are requesting 17 variances to the existing roadway. The development may also require a roundabout or new traffic light at the intersection of Tooles Bend Road and Northshore Drive.
The current number of homes along Tooles Bend is less than 300, and residents fear such a radical increase could lead to serious problems. Their concerns include:
- Housing density that exceeds standards for the area
- Access for emergency vehicles on tight, winding roads
- Limited escape routes in case of fire or flooding
- Wastewater issues if farmland and wetlands are replaced with hard surfaces
- Unanswered questions about water and sewerage infrastructure
- Disturbance of historical and archaeological sites
- Encroachment or elimination of wildlife habitat
The Northshore Corridor Association has the support of the following neighborhood organizations: Amberleigh, Cottington Court, Cove Point, Keller Bend, Kensington, Lyons Crossing, River Club, Victoria’s Inlet, Wexford, Whittington Creek, Wright’s Ferry Landing and the Knoxville Boat Club.
“We want to be perfectly clear that we are not anti-development,” said another association spokesperson, Diane Montgomery. “We are pro-development. We’re just asking everyone involved to slow down and address community concerns before proceeding any further. We want to see smart development with appropriate community input.”
Spears and Montgomery encourage community members to attend the Aug. 9 Metropolitan Planning Commission meeting from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the Main Assembly Room, City County Building, 400 West Main St., Knoxville.
They are also asking people to:
- “like” its Facebook page at facebook.com/NorthshoreCorridorAssociation
- sign its change.org petition under “Lower the Post Oak (the Bailey Farm) development density to avoid traffic safety issues”
- attend the Aug. 9 meeting