South County Sector Plan Nearing Completion
Planning Commission hearing set for mid-October
The South County sector is a beautiful part of Knox County that has retained much of its rural character over the years. Natural and scenic resources are abundant—the French Broad River serves as the area’s eastern boundary, and forested ridges and farmed valleys run throughout sector.
MPC staff is in the process of updating the South County Sector Plan, paying close attention to the protection of rural character and scenic beauty. The plan includes concepts from the French Broad Conservation Corridor Plan and proposes design guidelines for development along Governor John Sevier Highway.
MPC held four community meetings to gather ideas before developing the plan and two more to present the draft plan and gather additional feedback. Among several citizen concerns addressed in the plan, two are highlighted:
- Attendees requested a Small Area Plan for Alcoa Highway. As a result, MPC staff began working on a special mixed use district for the Village Plaza and Southgate Shopping Centers, as well as adjacent areas, to encourage redevelopment.
- Meeting participants expressed concerns that Governor John Sevier Highway has not been adequately protected as “scenic.” Though the thoroughfare is already designated a state Rural Scenic Highway, staff planners included a proposal for design standards to address new development along the highway and help preserve the rural beauty of the area.
All sector plans include a background report that describes existing conditions, a series of plan proposals for land use, transportation, community facilities, and other resources, and sections addressing areas of unique concern to sector residents, like the Alcoa Highway Small Area plan.
A few highlights from the draft South County plan:
- The 65-square mile sector grew steadily over the past decade, seeing a 9 percent population gain. With that growth came the need for more housing, most of which occurred in the form of single-dwelling units. Still, the sector remains largely rural. Almost 60 percent of the land is classified as agriculture, forest, or vacant. Retail development occurred primarily around the intersection of Chapman Highway and John Sevier at the South Grove Shopping Center.
- The proposed Land Use Plan shows little change within the sector, with the exception of three new mixed use districts. These districts help revitalize previously developed areas, such as older shopping centers, that are no longer in use. The districts allow retail, office, and medium- to higher-density residential development..
- Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is expected to make road improvements along Alcoa Highway in 2013. Looking further into the future, John Sevier Highway will be widened. The sector plan includes recommendations for both of those corridors in conjunction with the expected improvements.
- Among proposed community facility and park improvements, construction of the Knox-Blount Greenway is expected to coincide with TDOT’s Alcoa Highway work. Also, the sector plan calls for greenway linkages from South Knox County to the new Urban Wilderness Corridor in the South City sector.
The draft South County Sector Plan is available on online. It is expected to be presented for adoption at MPC’s October 11, 2012 meeting. Once adopted by MPC the plan will be sent to City Council and County Commission for approval.
Posted 10-03-2012, written by Sarah Powell