JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – On Thursday night, the Johnson City city commission unanimously passed a proposal to rezone nearly 23 acres of land off Knob Creek Road.
If approved, the rezoning would make way for a new 178-townhome complex, which hopes to break ground in July 2022. However, those that live in the area are concerned.
“It’s not just rezoning – it’s rezoning and adding apartment complex after apartment complex before you manage the road system,” Berkshire Circle resident Clifton Mitchell said.
Mitchell highlighted the one-lane underpass and a narrow bridge on Knob Creek Road as some of the major concerns. But, he said the list is lengthy.
“Fix the narrow blind curve on Oakland,” he added. “There are numerous areas of traffic concern.”
Mitchell isn’t the only one with concerns. Niles Geary, another resident in the area, feels the timing of the rezoning is puzzling.
“If we have an area that’s already a problem traffic-wise that creates bottlenecks, delays – adding that type of residential communities to it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” Geary said.
Johnson City Mayor Joe Wise said, however, that the issues of rezoning the Knob Creek land and repairing the surrounding roads are two separate dilemmas – only related by proximity.
“What you’re deciding is, is a townhome community a more desirable and beneficial use for that 22 acres than any of the intense retail or commercial uses that could occur in a B-4,” Wise said.
Businesses that could acquire and build on the land under a B-4 zoning classification include anything from Walmart to car dealerships. Wise sees additional housing as a better fit and addition to the surrounding area and Johnson City community.
Wise also told News Channel 11 that he and the city council are well aware of the roadway issues that exist in that area.
“We recognize a single-lane tunnel doesn’t work,” he said. “We recognize the traffic out there – built in in 1908 – for a largely rural-agrarian scenario does not fit the use today. We are actively taking steps to address that.”
As mentioned in the meeting on Thursday, part of those repairs will be completed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, as written into recent state legislation that promised funding from increased gas taxes.
“This is not a project that’s on a maybe list – this is a project that – this is one of the things state statute has set forth that you’re going to do with this new money,” Wise said.
A timeline for that roadwork, however, is still unclear. Wise said the City is still working through some right-of-way acquisitions and finalizing finished designs for the improvements.