POWELL, Tenn. (WATE) — Farmland continues to be eyed for development in Knox County. Planning commissioners will soon discuss a concept plan to build more than 1,100 dwellings off West Emory Road. The project includes apartments, homes, retail and green space.
New life could be brought to the old Bell’s Farm.
“Right now, we’re just starting out with ‘Belltown’ because it does feel like a town,” developer Josh Sanderson said. “From apartments to townhomes, to single-family to estate-sized homes, again across all different price points.”
Sanderson says Smithbilt Homes has owned the farm for several years and they have been hoping to develop the property for a while. West Emory Road splits through the proposed development.
“On the southside, the main anchor is going to be the park,” Sanderson said. “The park is going to be wrapped around by Beaver Creek and we see that with the restaurants and the shops all on this side. The townhomes, the 55 and older living area as well as the apartments all on the south side. Across the street will be all single-family homes.”
However, some neighbors near the project site aren’t sold on the idea to build a whole new community.
“The main thing is (West) Emory Road, and you know as you pulled in, it is super congested now and it will not handle any project of that magnitude,” Rick Harbin said. “And it would be a massive undertaking to modify (West) Emory Road to accommodate it.”
According to Sanderson, TDOT manages West Emory Road.
“It’s just a numbers game. We see a signal, a traffic light installed here. We see obviously pedestrian sidewalks crossing here because we want everyone to be safe too. Our homeowners who are going to be living here, we don’t want them unsafe on West Emory and we don’t want them sitting in traffic all day every day so whatever needs to be done will get done,” he said.
Harbin’s property backs up to the north end of the proposed development site. He believes the project would last for years considering its size and would destroy the scenery.
“I want to enjoy my backyard and the privacy of the backyard and the wildlife of my backyard,” Harbin said. “And this project is going to take it away. That’s what I have against it. I’m not against development but I think any development should be good for the community and the properties that surround it.”
Some other neighbors who declined a formal interview said they have similar sentiments as Hardin about the proposed project. Only the concept plan will be discussed on June 9, no motion will be on it.