JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Johnson City commissioners gave final approval to the so-called Keebler Annexation on Thursday night.

The approval paves the way for a massive residential development which could include the construction of more than 350 single-family homes and 120 townhomes on a 133-acre site near Exit 13 on Interstate 26.

City leaders view the project as essential to the city’s growth but some nearby residents have expressed concerns.

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Concerned citizens piled into the Johnson City commission room to hear the final vote on the Keebler annexation. (Photo: WJHL).

Before the vote, a public hearing was held that heard a repeat of concerns residents have been voicing for months. Many are worried about traffic.

“Traffic has become a major concern,” said a concerned citizen at the public hearing. “We are not asking you not to develop. We are asking you to develop wisely.”

Some requested increased police patrols now even before construction starts. City Manager Cathy Ball says she’ll address this.

“After the hearing tonight, I think I will be meeting with the chief, to say, ‘Can we take a look at being able to evaluate the traffic there?'” said Ball.

Ball says she’ll meet with the developer to address concerns and pledged a comprehensive growth plan is the goal at city hall.

“So that we can not just look at this development by development, but that we can look at it holistically,” said Ball.

Concerned citizens pledge to keep pushing for smart growth.

“They need to expand their study well outside that corridor to do the planning more efficient and make the traffic a little better,” said concerned citizen John Deakins.

“That we actually do start getting together as a group and with some folks, some residents from Gray as well as with the city and the county to really talk about what we need to do and some of the improvements that need to be made,” said concerned citizen Danny Sells.

Construction on the Keebler land will not begin for some time as the developers meet with the city commissioners for rezoning with a more detailed plan for the site.