Knoxville OKs Rezoning for Powell Airport Site

The amount of development that would occur if the entire property containing Powell Airport were fully developed calls for a planned zoning approach, according to the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

So, MPC unanimously approved retail and office-park zoning Thursday for 10.7 acres of the site, which owner Norman Mayes had requested be rezoned general commercial.

Ken Pruitt, MPC principal planner, noted that although Mayes was only seeking to rezone a portion of the property that runs along and partially fronts Emory Road, he had filed a plan amendment that applied to the whole property, which was more than 70 acres, excluding some land designated as floodway.

This signals an intention to eventually develop the whole property, and Pruitt said that retail and office-park zoning, which is a planned zone, would be more prudent than general commercial, because it would allow more MPC input over how such a large piece of land is developed.

Rusty Baksa, with the Land Development Solutions civil engineering firm and who was representing Mayes, said the entire property -- the subject of the plan amendment -- would eventually be developed, but for now, his client only wants to actually rezone the part near Emory Road.

"We don't deny that there may be a need for master planning of the overall site as it develops in the future, but we feel that the front of this property should be handled differently," he said.

One reason is that other parcels fronting on Emory and adjacent to the 10.7 acres are already zoned general commercial. It would make sense to have all the frontage property zoned the same, he said. Plus, there are such things as driveway spacing requirements on the frontage parcels that would call for them to be developed differently than the bulk of the property, Baksa said.

He said that Mayes did not want to deal with rezoning the entire property now, because he wants to maintain the airport and wants to keep agricultural zoning on the rest of the property for tax purposes.

However, Baksa said his client would accept retail and office-park zoning on the 10.7 acres if MPC felt that was necessary. The planning commissioners ended up siding with Pruitt on the issue.

"The (planning) staff's feeling is that the ultimate size of this property is sufficient to warrant a planned commercial zone where you would have a public involvement and a development plan for the site so that residents of the area as well as the community at large will have a chance to react before it goes forward," Pruitt said.

For information on other MPC actions from Thursday, call MPC at 865-215-2500 or visit the MPC Web site at .

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