Citizens gearing up to oppose Knox zoning for 151-unit apartment

In a step toward possibly building up to 151 low-income apartments along Concord Road, a proposal to rezone 8.42 acres already is receiving quite a bit of opposition before Knoxville Knox County Planning Commission considers it Thursday afternoon, Sept. 10.

While the parcel is in unincorporated Knox County, it is located in Farragut’s Urban Growth Boundary on the Growth Policy Plan map. Although it has no authority over the ultimate decision, Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a resolution opposing the rezoning request Thursday, Aug. 13.

Behind the scenes, Knox County 5th-District Commissioner John Schoonmaker also has been vocal in his dissent.

The property, located on the south side of Concord Road between Avenir Memory Care and the Northshore Road roundabout, has a listed owner of Laumar Properties, LLC.

The application to rezone the parcel from Neighborhood Commercial to Planned Residential with a density of 18 units per acre, was submitted by Craig Cobb of Dominion Development Group. The application further outlines a sector plan amendment request to High Density Residential.

Town administrator David Smoak discussed the proposal in detail with BOMA Aug. 13, as the resolution was an agenda item. He noted the property is within Farragut’s Urban Growth Boundary, and because of that, the Knoxville-Knox County Planning organization was required to notify Town officials of the rezoning request.

‘What it is zoned for currently is Neighborhood Commercial, like what we see near Choto, with Don Gallo’s and Wiegels — that type of development could go there now,” Smoak said.

“The area we are talking about would go from Commercial Neighborhood to Office, then the sector plan amendment for High Density Residential, if approved, would allow up to four-story buildings.”

Both requested changes were described as being “inconsistent with both the Knox County zoning and sector plan and the Town of Farragut Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which designates this area as Medium Density Residential with a density of up to eight dwelling units per acre,” according to a BOMA report. “The area to the north and east of this property are all Low Density Detached single family housing and a rezoning to this intense use would not be compatible with the surrounding development patterns in the area.”

“I got a chance to speak to John Schoonmaker … and he supports the current zoning,” Town Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said.

“I wouldn’t think they would want to put 140 apartments on Concord Road,” Alderman Ron Pinchok said.

“It would certainly change the look and feel for that corridor if that went in there,” Smoak said.

“If this is part of the Urban Growth Boundary, doesn’t it have to come through us?” Alderman Drew Burnette asked.

“The only thing that comes to us, is for them to notify us that something is happening,” Smoke replied.

“I support the current zoning as well,” Mayor Ron Williams said.

The resolution passed and was sent on to the Knoxville-Knox County Planning organization.

Schoonmaker’s stance

Additionally, Schoonmaker sent an email to many residents near the proposed project, letting them know about it — and asking them to make their own feelings known by contacting both the Planning Commission at and the staff planner, Michelle Portier, at

Schoonmaker explained that “the decision to recommend or deny these apartments rest with the 15 citizen members of the Planning Commission. As your county commissioner, I am not involved in that decision and do not have a vote.

“It is my understanding they are applying for a grant from the State of Tennessee for low income housing,” he added. “The property is currently doing Neighborhood Commercial and was planned as a gateway to Farragut with limited types of commercial uses.

“My position is that the property should remain in its current zoning classification of Neighborhood Commercial. I do not support a High-Density Residential development for this location. It is incumbent that everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods act now to e-mail the groups above and state your position.”

Many comments on social media have been negative regarding the proposal as well.

Jamie Abbott, who lives near the proposed project, reached out to farragutpress last week, making sure it was aware of the plans and the opposition.

“I just can’t see how (the project) would be good for anyone,” he said.

The Planning meeting, which is electronic, begins at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 10, and may be viewed on CTV or You Tube.