KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — A sleepy community named Dry Hollow has been a little louder lately, as community members continue pushing against a developer, named Thunder Mountain, trying to turn farmland off Sevierville Pike into a housing development.
The community has pushed against the development for months, and their fight against developers started in Dec. 2021. In February, county and city leaders gave the community and developed until April to meet and discuss their issues with the plans.
Community members said they said they originally moved to Dry Hollow because of its quaint, quiet and serene surroundings. They said they expected the community would stay that way.
However, they also said they weren't totally opposed to some development in the area. They said the current plans built too many homes in the area, though. They said they wanted plans to build less than a home per acre, on average, throughout the 159 acres at stake.
Terry Hill said that she was encouraged about some of the development in Knox County, and said people living in the county may not be able to avoid construction in the area.
"Whatever happens here, it is the result of what happens when you live in a county like Knox County that is growing, and thriving, and building. Like it or not, this is kind of where we are," said Commissioner Terry Hill. "Nobody is crazy about making people unhappy."
Community members also previously said that they didn't think developers should be allowed to build on the land without considering the impact more housing could have. Many said they were worried it would increase traffic on small roads. Members who opposed the developer's plans wore red to a zoning meeting on Monday, with many carrying signs against the plans.
During the meeting, some county leaders said they planned to limit how many homes could be built in an area.
They also said they planned to never allow clustering homes. However, some community members during the meeting accused some commissioners of misrepresenting what they wanted, as commissioners discussed building more homes in an effort to lower their prices.
The commission approved a sector plan 8-3, which effectively allowed the developers to build on the land.
John Schoonmaker made a motion to allow up to 180 homes on 64 acres of flat land, which would need to be platted into lots before developers could build 77 homes on a 95-acre hillside. It also imposed a condition on the rezoning, preventing developers from clustering houses together.
However, before a vote on that motion, a commissioner asked for input from the opposing group.
"The county commission, your authority to impose these conditions is not found anywhere in the statutes. I know there are some cases out there that impose conditional zoning, but I haven't found any," said Daniel Sanders, a representative of the community who spoke during the meeting.
He pushed for the plans to be sent back to the Planning Commission for recommendations on individual parcels. He criticized the motion, saying he did not think the commissioners had the authority to pass it.
Terry Hill said Sanders was criticizing a safeguard that the commission imposed to protect his group's interests, supposedly acting against them. However, Sanders said his group did not want Thunder Mountain to build houses built in the flatland area at all.
So, Hill proposed a motion allowing for up to 2.5 houses on average in a 64-acre section of land, effectively allowing 160 houses. She also proposed allowing 1 house per acre on a 95-acre section of land, for a possible 255 houses. It did not impose any conditions on the developments. The motion failed.
The counsel said, during the meeting, that they believed Schoonmaker's original motion was legal. The motion passed, 8-3, allowing developers to build on the land with some restrictions.