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Community members push back as their surrounding rural land is being considered for site of new neighborhood

The proposed rezoning would change the land from agricultural to planned residential. Knoxville-Knox Planning Commission will hear the proposal on Dec. 9.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Editor's Note: The article was edited to reflect the correct name of the commission in charge of approving or denying the proposal on December 9.

The debate between community members and developers is growing louder in Knoxville. One of those debates is happening right now, off of Sevierville Pike, in the Dry Hollow community.  

Around 150 people live in the rural area and they are among the latest to learn about a proposed rezoning plan in their backyards. Every morning, the neighbors wake up to the sound of birds and wildlife. It's an area of Knoxville with deer, turkey, bats, and other species.

Dawn Close lives off of the road where the proposed development would be built.

"This area is just teeming with wildlife," she said. "Some of the deer come over here, some of the deer go over there, they cross the road. It's a whole habitat for the animals."

Right now, she captures pictures of the wildlife activity near her home. However, Close is worried she won't be able to do it forever. 

"We picked this area because it's zoned agricultural around us, and it's a rural area," said Margie Grace, who also lives in the Dry Hollow community.

Close and Grace noticed a rezoning sign pop up across the field from their home. A few days later, they saw trees bulldozed down.

"Over just a few months time, like 3,000 trees were just knocked to the ground. I mean, 30 and 40-foot trees just knocked over with bulldozers," Close said.

The rural landscape began to change before their eyes. The developers, Thunder Mountain Properties, want to build 474 homes on 158 acres — three homes per acre.

Grace thinks that's too much development for their rural community.

"The people who live here, live here intentionally. They could have bought someplace else," Grace said.

"This is not what we want in our community, period," Close said.

Their biggest worries are that the development will impact wildlife corridors, streams, traffic patterns, and their beloved quietness. 

Close and Grace said they are not against growth in Knoxville. However, they say, not here.

"We can have growth, we can have smart growth, we can have growth that is thoughtful, sensitive, smart, and we can also maintain our lifestyle," Grace said.

Knox County Commissioner Carson Dailey said Knox County Planning officials have "not come out with any recommendations at this time," as to whether they will approve or deny the request.

Thunder Mountain Properties was also contacted for this story; however, they have not responded for comment as of November 19.

This rezoning proposal will be heard at the planning commission meeting on December 9. 

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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