Advance Knox growth plan passes committee
By Mike Steely
Almost 80,000 new Knox County residents are expected over the next 20 years. The need for new housing, the development of farmland for housing, and how and where those changes will be planned are part of the Advance Knox Growth Plan.
That initial plan passed a split vote Wednesday in the fourth public meeting of the Growth Policy Coordinating Committee. Although dozens of residents turned out to oppose the plan or ask for a delay for more public input, the 10-2 committee vote now sends the revised plan to the Knox County Commission, Knoxville City Council and Town of Farragut. All three jurisdictions must approve the plan.
Disagreements were voiced by residents and farmers who opposed a recent amendment that put an increasing amount of agricultural land into the proposed residential development areas. Two years of research and public meetings brought about a last-minute amendment from Mayor Glenn Jacobs that opponents said was only issued a few days before the hearing. The change reduces the proposed residential area from 17.5 to 14.5 square miles.
The amendment cuts the current three houses per acre to two dwellings according to Jim Snowden, Knox County’s chief engineer. Amy Brooks, director of Knoxville-Knox County Planning, told the meeting the plan shows where future growth could go. Development would be permitted where utilities are available and the local roads serving a project must be at least 18 feet wide.
Snowden said the final plan cuts density in the rural area by one-third. If passed by the municipalities the plan will go into effect on May 1.
Only two of the dozens of speakers spoke in favor of the Growth Plan. Most speakers also urged for green spaces, natural areas and parks. Shouts of disapproval came from the audience when the amendment and Growth Plan passed.
Both city and county mayors supported the plan. Knox County Soil Conservation District Vice Chairman Broadus Hubbs and Knox County Schools Board Chair Betsy Henderson voted against it.
Mayor Glenn Jacobs thanked the speakers and said of the final plan, “It was a lot of work.”