Controversy over new condo development in East Knoxville

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Neighbors fought it for months, but the Knoxville City Council paved the road for a new multi-million dollar condo development near their homes.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there when the vote came in.

About a dozen Chilhowee Hill homeowners came to Tuesday night's meeting. Two hundred Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church members came. The church is the main player in the East Knoxville development.

When the unanimous 9 to 0 vote came in, church members gave a standing ovation, and thunderous applause, but homeowners say the rug was pulled out from under them.
One of the most vocal opponents to the project was Karen Odell. She appealed the Metropolitan Planning Commission's approval of the project. She says the church blindsided her with amended conditions to the deal at the meeting. She says that have neighbors no time to discuss the changes.

Council gave them about 20 minutes to talk among themselves. The neighbors asked for another postponement. Council already delayed the vote from earlier this month.
The council said this was fair to both sides.

Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church wants to build a 194 condos on its property just off Asheville Highway. Neighbors expressed concerns about increased traffic and destroyed forestry.

Tuesday's amended conditions add speed bumps, gate entrances, and other traffic requirements. Odell says she just wanted a fair deal. She says this was just too much to fast.

"Please don't come to us on Tuesday afternoon before the council meeting because we don't have time to talk to all the people involved," Odell said.

"It's bringing development into the inner city, inner ring of Knoxville. While people are moving out into the suburbs, we're thrilled we have a first rate development," Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church Pastor Tony Crisp said.

Odell says the church and city council hasn't heard the last from neighbors. Crisp says construction could in early summer.

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  • by Chalkie Location: Knxville on Apr 25, 2008 at 09:25 AM
    For the record, the church is not the developer. The church is selling the land to a For-Profit entity and the development will not be an exclusively Baptist neighborhood. And whilst I am not a Baptist, I harbor no fears that what is happening on the hill will in any way follow in the footsteps of a polygamist cult. And as Shelley points out above, this type of community is popular. In fact, what is seen in the real estate busines is these kinds of developments are the one bright spot in an otherwise depressed business. These communities make good neighbors. These communities bring good people together. These communities raise property values to adjacent properties. I think when the jury comes in, after it's done, the development will be a resounding success for all the stakeholders.
  • by Shelly Location: Knoxville on Apr 23, 2008 at 04:10 PM
    I am so excited to see a development come to Knoxville. My parents live in a development like this in Florida and it is grand. Congrats to East Knoxville.
  • by Melissa Location: Strawberry Plains on Apr 23, 2008 at 02:28 PM
    I do not understand why a church is building condos. This makes no sence to me. After all the cults and pologamy problems around the country, why would a church need condos? Chilhowee Hills Baptist is a huge church and has alot of wealthy members. It seems they have over run the community and money always talks.
  • by Gary Location: Knoxville on Apr 23, 2008 at 11:33 AM
    As usual, KVLT has half of the story correct. The speed bumps, and gate entrances were already a part of the plan submitted and approved by the MPC. The church and the developers bent over backwards trying to come to an agreement with Mrs Odell. Thankfully Vice Mayor Mark Brown realized that this was a good deal for all involved and recomended passage to city council.


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