KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission approved a few rezoning applications in Hardin Valley that could lead to at least 300 more houses built in the area.
Several items on the agenda Thursday included either rezoning applications or new concepts or development plans in Hardin Valley, an area that residents said is already bursting at the seams and can’t handle more growth until the infrastructure is built to handle it.
A group called the Hardin Valley Planning Advocates has been vocal about how they want to see the community grow while also keeping “our sense of place that makes our community so desirable.”
Members were hoping that at least the two of the larger rezoning applications were approved following the Northwest Sector Plan without an amendment.
For one of the applications, Ball Homes, the HVPA wanted the commission to approve only one home per acre. Ball Homes developers were seeking a request for four houses per acre in their rezoning application.
The planning commission voted to approve three units per acre.
As for concepts and developments, members wanted the plans to include connections to sidewalks, parks and playgrounds.
Impacts of growth in Hardin Valley
The HVPA and some Hardin Valley residents say they’re not opposed to growth but without proper planning and infrastructure it could cause issues.
Dana Pumariega has been a Hardin Valley resident since 2004. When she first moved to the area, there weren’t too many subdivisions.
“Now, honestly, I don’t even know how many subdivisions there are,” Pumariega said. “I think an excess of twenty to thirty subdivisions. Every time I drive pass, there’s a new one that’s popped up somewhere.”
As an insurance agent in the community, with more houses Pumareiga said she sees more traffic and more crashes.
She said she’s learned what time of days not to travel on Hardin Valley Road to miss the chaos.
“It’s really bad when you have kids in the Hardin Valley school system, because you can easily get caught even if you’re going two miles, you can get caught in about thirty, forty minutes of traffic,” she said.
Houses are also either taking up beautiful views or farm land. Pumariega said the rural feeling of the area was why she moved to Hardin Valley in the first place.
“I like to be close enough to get to grocery stores and shopping and Targets, but wanted to be a little bit in the country feel as well,” she said. “That’s what drew me to Hardin Valley, but it’s definitely changing a lot.”
The growth isn’t all bad to some local stakeholders. More people in the area means more customers at local businesses.
“I do feel like this is becoming more of a destination community, which is what we want,” said Kim Betts, general manager of HOTWORX. “We want people to come to the Hardin Valley community to visit local businesses, specifically small businesses that are growing.”
The Hardin Valley HOTWORX opened a little more than a year ago, so the business is part of the new growth.
She believes as Hardin Valley grows, more businesses can move in and residents would be able to stay in the area to get all their needs met.
However, she recognizes if a community grows, something needs to give.
“I think they’re going to have to figure something out with all of the houses going in and all of the new communities, and especially our schools filling up like they are, I don’t any other solution than widening the roads,” Betts said.
Pumariega agreed. She said progress is good, but needs to be done in a smart way.
“It’s a little bit too much too fast,” Pumariega said. “You’d like to see the roads keep up with the growth of homes and traffic, and the roads are just not equipped to handle the new building and construction that’s going on here in the valley.”
County Commissioner Terry Hill said the county is working on a Comprehensive Land Use, Transportation, and Park Plan which would serve as a reference for planning and zoning. She said until that is passed, it’s going to be a slow process to follow up on infrastructure after the community has already grown as much as it has.
Hill, who represents the Hardin Valley community, said the county and the developers are making progress. She said the developers are starting to listen and add amenities and green space.