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The County Mayor has hired a consulting firm to lead a process to update the Knox County Growth Plan – that really, really, really important thing that we talk about here so often.
The process is called Advance Knox. You will find a link to the schedule for “Ideas Week” below. Meetings begin next week. Yikes. (Don’t blame us. We just got the information.)
We strongly urge you to show up at a nearby school and share your ideas and concerns regarding Knox County’s future.
The Mayor (Same guy. I swear.) and development community, led by Scott Davis (I don’t have to remind you who he is, right?), previously mounted a very strong effort to eliminate the County Growth Plan (that document that defines and mandates the best use of county land), saying it was time consuming and costly. Only the unwillingness of the Town of Farragut to endorse their proposal stopped that effort. Whew!
A little later on, the Knox County Law Director’s Office took the position that the Growth Plan had sunset, died, dead, done! But that was in conflict with opinions of the State Attorney General. That left an unfortunate state of confusion as to whether County Commission was bound by it. Seems they chose – they’d rather not.
Last month, the Law Director’s office reversed its decision back into alignment with opinions of the State Attorney General (they didn’t tell us why.) As a result of these challenges and changes there is understandable wide skepticism among citizen groups across the county.
Still. Nevertheless. No excuses. For real. This Is It.
Advance Knox does provide an important opportunity for citizens to speak up and hopefully (if there are enough of us and we look like sorta like voters) we taxpayers can have an important impact in re-crafting this very important law.
Inside Baseball (Mayor’s Office) Wait. I forgot. Inside Wrestling
An Advance Knox citizen “stakeholder” committee has been appointed to help shape the process. We have only a little information about the members and their role but it appears they will not be a voting body (so they get to meet in the dark, away from prying eyes like yours). It is our early perception that, like the predecessor committee, after the Mayor’s earlier effort, its membership may be weighted toward the development community (Secret. – from which the Mayor and several sitting commissioners and commission candidates have received major $$$$$ campaign funding. Shhh. ).
Who Cares? You do!
If you care about the direction Knox County is headed, this is your big chance to get a seat at the table, see what’s afoot and speak up. (If we don’t participate should we complain later? What would your mother say?)
Why Does it Matter?
In spite of well organized efforts by many citizen groups to retain current zoning to protect their neighborhoods, farms and green spaces; to save a teeny little bit for parks, etc., hundreds of Knox County acres have been rezoned for development and thousands of building permits have been granted – with grossly inadequate fiscal planning for the impact on schools, roads and utilities. Actually, it seems nobody really knows how much. We’re trying to find out.
Unfortunately, there is no readily accessible snapshot of the permits issued, their status or their expected impact that we can show you. We have asked for the information and will share it here if we obtain it. We believe this lack of information is a serious flaw in County planning and just one of many problems the new plan should address.
Let’s be better informed. We hope you will not only participate in Advance Knox but that you will start preparing right now to vote in the upcoming County election. Early voting starts in April! We hope you will begin by taking a look at required campaign disclosures. That’s where the rubber meets the road, where you can actually see who’s putting their money behind who and maybe figure out why, then decide for yourself who you want representing you.
Here’s the Election Commission link:
While we maintain healthy skepticism about Advance Knox, we know there are some very good citizen members on the stakeholder committee, as there are also some excellent County Commissioners. We will participate. See you there?
Here Are A Few Facts for Your Use:
1) Knox County is experiencing an unprecedented building boom
2) Already upwards of 80-90% of Knox County land is developed.
3) Housing demand is tremendous as people abandon high crime, high tax communities and flee to communities they perceive to be safer and more affordable.
4) Knox County is high on that list. We welcome our new neighbors but know –
5) Knox County is not prepared!
6) As we have reported here before, developers ask County Commission monthly, and most frequently it approves requests to rezone rural or otherwise low density land such as farms, ridges, hills and flood prone parcels (hint – that’s why they are zoned low density). This is done without an overall vision/plan that is respected and adhered to by County Commission.
7) Much more land has already been approved for development.
In fact, according to the Board of Realtors 16 percent of all building permits and site approvals for the state for 2021 were issued in Knox County alone!
Now is the moment for citizens to be engaged with Advance Knox and with our County elections.
Early Voting is April 13-28. Primary is May 3rd and the General Election is August 4. Next year will be too late.