KARNS, Tenn. (WATE) — They had to put out more chairs because it was a packed house at the Karns Community Club Youth Center as eager citizens questioned a proposed neighborhood.
“It’s a big development,” Smithbilt Homes developer Josh Sanderson said. “There’s going to be a lot of concerned citizens.”
Julie McBee-Fritts helped organize the meeting with Belltown developer Josh Sanderson. He envisions Belltown having retail space, a park and about 1100 homes including apartments.
“We are part of the community. We’re on Ball Road and we want to be a part of it. We just don’t want to come in here and not listen to our neighbors about their concerns, we’re a part of it. We don’t want to go anywhere we’re not wanted,” Sanderson said.
“There will be so many houses coming in, in a year,” Rhonda Harbin, a local resident, said. “Eighty houses, 80 to 100 come in, in a year. Okay, Smithbilt Homes, when they build a house, people are moving in. As soon as it’s built, they’re moving in.”
The Belltown project would take at least 10 years and would be built in phases. The plan is to build on the old Bell’s Farm and West Emory Road runs straight through the property.
Several people addressed Sanderson with flooding concerns as well as worries that construction would clog up traffic even more on West Emory Road. There are talks of installing a traffic light and sidewalks.
“It is the number one issue,” Sanderson said. “It’s an issue from our standpoint as the developer and it’s the number one issue for the neighbors in the surrounding neighborhoods. It’s something we take very seriously.”
While Sanderson says more traffic studies will be done when school is in session, others just aren’t sold on the idea of Belltown.
“I don’t trust them,” Harbin said. “I just don’t. I mean they can talk about what they’re going to do and that this can happen.”
McBee-Fritts shares the same concerns as her neighbors but she’s also uneasy about what will happen to the historical cemetery on the Belltown site. She reports Captain John Fox Senior is buried there and her husband is a descendant of him. There’s no solid entryway to the cemetery.
“The [Belltown] design had the cemetery actually between two home sites and the respect and the honor that the cemetery should receive, and I hope it does receive, as this is a huge issue for my husband and his family as well,” McBee-Fritts said.
According to Sanderson, he and his team are going to review their plans following community input and possibly make changes ahead of formally submitting the proposal to planning commissioners.