Residents continue opposition for West Knoxville Hospital

Residents continue opposition for proposed West Knoxville Hospital

Posted:
Tennova wants to build on 110-acres in West Knoxville on Middlebrook Pike near Old Weisgarber Road. Tennova wants to build on 110-acres in West Knoxville on Middlebrook Pike near Old Weisgarber Road.
Sixteen people living near the proposed represented by Rocky Swingle are appealing the planning commission's approval. Sixteen people living near the proposed represented by Rocky Swingle are appealing the planning commission's approval.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  Some people in West Knoxville aren't giving up their fight against a new hospital.  

Tennova wants to build on 110-acres in West Knoxville on Middlebrook Pike near Old Weisgarber Road. 

The Metropolitan Planning Commission approved a use-on-review request last month, but opponents say that approval doesn't satisfy the proper criteria.

Council will take up an appeal made by residents to overturn the planning commission approval.

Tennova's planned 300-bed hospital development returns for debate before the city council on Tuesday.   

Nancy Velverade has lived in the Wesley Neighborhood in West Knoxville her entire life.  Her home borders the proposed hospital site, and she says concerned about an impact the hospital would bring.    

"I like having a quiet neighborhood, which it would not be, plus the noise of the construction," said Valverde.  

Sixteen people living near the proposed represented by Rocky Swingle are appealing the planning commission's approval.  

The residents maintain they will be negatively affected by the development because of concerns of increased traffic, noise, lights and potential environmental hazards.  

"We want the neighborhood to be protected as much as possible. That's where asking council to do, to stand by the constituents and give us as much protection as possible," said Swingle.  

Tennova has held about dozen meetings with neighbors.  

Company officials have changed parts of the development proposal to include many of their suggestions.

Some of the changes include adding more walking trails and a greenway connection and moving the emergency department further from existing homes. Residents still want city council to force them to do more.   

If City Council chooses not to reverse the MPC decision, residents are asking Council to mandate Tennova add conditions in order to mitigate as much of the negative impact.

Some of the stipulations include restricting maximum building height to four stories, and including 200 foot buffer with vegetation to cover the setback between the hospital property and houses on adjacent street in West Hills.  

The residents also want an immediate and thorough traffic study to include traffic impacts in surrounding neighbors.  

"The  traffic study that they did was inadequate, they didn't address neighborhood streets," said Swingle.  

Only three council members voted no when Council approved Tennova's use-on-review request last month.     

Councilman Daniel Brown, a no vote last time says he isn't necessarily going to vote the same on Tuesday.      

"That doesn't mean I'm going to vote with them again. I'm going to listen to what is presented this Tuesday and make my vote and decision," Brown said.    

With the fate of the hospital now in the hands of city council, many think it will be built no matter what.

"I think they made up their mind they already wanted to have the hospital here," said Valverde. 

Tennova still needs final approval from the state to move ahead with construction.

The estimated $250-million project would replace Physicians Regional Medical Center in North Knoxville.

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