By Joe Rector

By the end of the summer, the new subdivision just up the road will be completed. Forty new houses line the streets. To my surprise, two separate tracks bordering the development have been scraped clean of topsoil, and work on phase 2 has begun. The additional land looks large enough to accommodate 60-80 more dwellings. Does any government official ever look at the impact of all these additional subdivisions?

The stated Knox County population for 2013 was 444,622, up from 432,226 in 2010. That equals a .028 growth rate in three years, equivalent to 12,396 individuals. I’m not sure such a paltry number justifies the overbuilding in our area.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, I could walk to the store a tenth of a mile down Ball Camp Pike. During the journey, I might encounter half a dozen cars. Today, no one walks the  road that is the same size that it was 50-plus years ago. The fear of being struck by a speeding car keeps people from even trying. A study from several years back stated that the road carried approximately 12,000 trips a day. With the addition of so many subdivisions, the increase in traffic will make getting anywhere all the more difficult. The Schaad Road extension, once called the new Ball Camp Pike, aimed to remove most of the traffic. However, the recession choked off funds and the project died. No new road and three railroad crossings can back up traffic for nearly a mile. Just imagine the effects of so many more cars entering the main road from the new developments.

Beautiful views in the area have been wiped out. The fields where this new subdivision is located offered residents a beautiful landscape in the morning when a light fog hung just above the ground until the morning sun steamed it away. Gone is the sweet scent of hay as it lay in wind rows before being baled. Only the memory of crossing that field in search of a perfect cedar Christmas tree remains. The losses of these things bring sadness to all of us who have invested in the community for such a long time.

The most worrisome impact of these developments falls on the lives of wildlife. Nests are turned under by bulldozers and graders. Wildlife of all kinds is left with no place to live or to find sources of food. These creatures move on in an attempt to find new homes. They invade neighborhoods and wreak havoc on gardens and garbage cans. More and more of them meet a deadly fate as they try to cross highways and roads to reach new places to live. Our constant demand for development pushes animals farther into smaller areas that cannot sustain their lives.

The solution to this problem is simple. Folks can choose to buy existing houses. Plenty are available, and many are of higher quality than the new ones that pop up in only a couple of days. The cheaper prices leave owners cash for remodeling and adding rooms. Animals then have a chance to live in a safer environment. It’s come to the point where we must live and let live. The land is not ours alone.