A proposed subdivision on Northshore Drive that would include more than 100 new homes has caught the attention, and disapproval, of neighbors.
The Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission is considering a rezoning request Jan. 11 to build up to five homes per acre on 42.44 acres in southwest Knox County.
The land is zoned for agricultural use, which allows farming and low-density residential developments. The planning staff is recommending the commission grant a maximum of three homes per acre for the property at Northshore Drive and Harvey Road.
Connor Kelly, land acquisition and development manager at Heritage Land Development Partners in Louisville, Tennessee, requested the rezoning.
The Knoxville metro area has a pronounced housing shortage. There was a surge in housing prices last year, largely due to an influx of people moving here and a lack of affordable housing stock.
Neighbors who live near the site have logged hundreds of comments in opposition to the proposal, saying the development would bring too much traffic to an already congested area they say isn’t suited to handle hundreds of new residents.
That section of Northshore Drive attracted over 4,800 cars per day in 2022, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The development would add an estimated 2,014 cars per day, according to a Knox Planning traffic study.
Knox County Engineering and Public Works Senior Director Jim Snowden told Knox News the county has plans to widen the shoulders of Northshore Drive to improve safety. He said the change gives drivers more room for forgiveness and space to move over if drivers encroach on the dividing line.
Snowden said construction on the widening is slated for this summer.
Kelly told Knox News the company chose the land for its location and natural beauty. Sam Harvey has owned the property since December 2015, according to Knox County property records.
Many of the public comments have focused on traffic, especially worries about additional time spent getting to work and safety concerns.
“Our current infrastructure is not designed to support communities of this density. I live in an adjacent neighborhood and already need to leave 40 minutes prior to school start time to feel confident that my children can get to school without being concerned about potential tardiness,” one commenter wrote. “Additionally, our roads are not wide enough to support existing traffic. Please reconsider this rezoning.”
“I oppose the requested rezoning to increase the density of housing. I have to drive the intersection at Harvey and Northshore every day, as does everyone south and west of us,” wrote another. “This is a gauntlet that was never intended to support the amount of traffic being requested. The roads and other infrastructure cannot handle this increase. Why should this be rezoned? What is the justification?”
How many homes and townhomes will be built on Northshore?
Kelly is planning on luxury, semi-custom homes built by Louisville, Tennessee, company Cook Bros. Homes.
Though he requested up to five dwelling units an acre, which on 42.44 acres would allow a maximum of 212 homes, it’s more likely he’ll be allowed to build up to three homes per acre, or a maximum of 127 homes, if commission approves the staff’s recommendation.
In reality, Kelly estimated the subdivision would have about 115 homes because of the challenges of the land.
He intends to market the subdivision to empty nesters and retirees moving to East Tennessee.
Kelly said he has considered building townhomes on a small portion of the land, but that is in the early discussion stage and would require five units per acre.
That vision might face opposition from neighbors who want a more traditional subdivision look and less density.
If the planning commission approves the rezoning request, it will be sent to the Knox County Commission for final approval on Feb. 26. Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the planning commission’s decision.
The meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 11 in the large assembly room of the Knoxville City County Building.
Kelly said if the planning commission approved three homes per acre it would align with “what our vision for the property is.”
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