letter to the editor

Farragut resident, Sierra Club chair, says Knox Growth Plan must be revised

The proposed Knox County Growth Policy Plan will come before the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen on March 28 for an up or down vote. This will be the last chance for the public to send the plan back to the drawing board.

Residents of Farragut should be aware that the vast majority of public comments before the Growth Policy Planning Committee, the Knox County Commission and the Knoxville City Council were in opposition, both to the Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan and to the Growth Policy Plan, which is supposedly based on the former.

The Sierra Club joins these citizens in their opposition and asks our elected bodies and the appointed Growth Policy Planning Committee to restart the process with the intent to frame a Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan and a Growth Policy Plan that provides for a sustainable future for our region. The plans should require:

• Tree preservation measures, including the replacement of removed trees, using a formula like that used in the Town of Farragut, and the protection of existing contiguous tree canopies.

• Detailed transportation planning that creates bike paths, bus lanes and other measures that give people transportation choices other than private vehicles. The connection of natural areas through wildlife corridors that enable wildlife migration.

• The creation of a Natural and Cultural Features GIS map showing, but not limited to: wetlands, buffer areas, ground and surface water resources, natural habitats, prime farmland soils, threatened and endangered species, geological features, steep slopes and ridge tops and historic features.

• An open-space rating system to identify and protect the most valuable natural features.

• The protection and maintenance of farmland in all rural areas in the county, including in the Town of Farragut.

• Incentivizing the most modern energy efficiency measures in all new residential, commercial and industrial development.

• Identification of specific tracts of land to be acquired for parks in the identified “park deserts.”

• Protection of all ridge-tops and slopes steeper than 15 percent from destruction by development.

• That adequate infrastructure, such as improved roads, sewers, water supply and electricity be in place before new developments are approved.

Because the law requires that zoning rules in the County be consistent with a Comprehensive Plan and the Growth Policy Plan, it is essential that these plans be revised with these mandates fulfilled before the County begins its revision of the zoning ordinance, scheduled to take place over the next two years.

The County is under intense pressure to create more housing and economic opportunities for people moving here. Most citizens opposing the proposed Growth Policy Plan are not opposed to growth per se.

But the proposed measures have gutted the protections in earlier plans without creating new safeguards.

Irresponsible development is already affecting areas by the Watt Road/I-40-75 interchange, in the Choto area and in Hardin Valley, resulting in increased traffic into Farragut on inadequate roads.

We advise the citizens of Farragut to contact their BOMA members and ask for two things:

• Vote down the proposed Growth Policy Plan and ask for a new, enforceable, Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan and a revised Growth Policy Plan from the County, and:

• Insist that the new Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan contain the sustainability elements listed above.

Growth is coming, and we are called upon to make sure it ends up creating a future our grandchildren will want to live in.

Gerald Thornton,

Farragut chair,

Harvey Broome

Group of the Sierra Club