KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A substantial group of neighbors continues to oppose the idea of building more than 1,000 homes off West Emory Road in Powell.
No formal application has been submitted for ‘Belltown‘ yet but Knox County planning commissioners heard a concept plan from the developer Thursday.
“The first time a subdivision is going through the process of putting it all out on the table,” Belltown developer Josh Sanderson said. “Letting them see the picture, the final product. We’re not going through zoning. We’re literally, ‘here’s what we propose.’ They’re going to vote in favor or against it.”
“How would anybody want to buy a house in this neighborhood,” questioned Martin Kuttesch, who lives near the proposed site.
During Thursday’s meeting, Planning Commissioner Lou Browning III said, “we (commissioners) need to get behind this development.”
Sanderson envisions a master-planned community on the old Bell’s Farm property with a total of 1,103 dwellings as well as retail space and a park. It’s planned for the housing to accommodate a variety of socioeconomic groups, but some neighbors believe the project is too much.
“There’s a lot here and it just doesn’t make common sense to me,” Kuttesch said. “I understand people need development, which is all great but make it reasonable.”
“Most developers come here to the planning commission asking for five units per acre. This will actually, when it’s all said and done, will be four units per acre. It’s already kind of scaled-down just because of the topography and the unique characteristics of the property,” said Sanderson.
The targeted site for Belltown has depressions, ponds and a cemetery on it.
Rick Harbin’s land is adjacent to the proposed Belltown site and he spoke on behalf of his neighbors during Thursday’s meeting. He and other neighbors suspect the project would disrupt wildlife and worsen traffic issues on West Emory Road.
“I’m not going to say TDOT doesn’t have West Emory on their radar but they didn’t have this portion,” Sanderson said. “They have certain areas that they know need to be improved but when we first called them and said ‘hey, here’s what we want to do, what’s your plan for Emory Road? Are you going to widening it?’ Somebody at work (TDOT) said no it’s not on the timeline but it is now.”
Sanderson and his company are working on submitting a formal proposal to county leaders soon. They also hope to meet with neighbors directly about their concerns.
“We’ll have as many neighborhood meetings as we need to,” Sanderson said.
The developer hopes to have a traffic study done near the end of June. Construction of Belltown could take about 10 years.