Write Planning Commission to Oppose Caswell Park Rezoning
The Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission will decide on October 10, 2019 whether to recommend rezoning of a roughly 1 acre section of Caswell Park for residential development. If the land is not re-zoned, it cannot be developed because it is protected by "Park and Open Space" zoning, also known as "OS-2" zoning.
You should write because public park land should never be sold or given away for development without meaningful opportunities for public oversight. Please write to remind the Planning Commission that in 2010, the consensus of City Council expressed via resolution was "the land within public parks should not be sold, leased, or otherwise utilized for the construction of housing or office or commercial developments without a formal process and extensive public review and input. " To repeat: extensive public review and input is the prerequisite to disposal of public park land for housing or commercial development.
A single, short-notice public meeting on Wednesday, September 23, followed by a single week to submit comments to the Planning Commission, in no way constitutes "extensive public review and input." Furthermore: public review and input has been stymied by the Community Development Department's active misrepresentation of the status of the land, misrepresentation that led to misleading reports in local news coverage reporting the status of the public park land as "adjacent to" rather than "part of" Caswell Park. Indeed, the very application submitted by the City to the Planning Commission improperly characterized the land use as "vacant land" rather than "public park land" presently recorded in the Planning Commission's own records. A printed notice of the proposed rezoning printed in the Knoxville-News Sentinel as required by law stated the parcels will be rezoned from "Open Space," dropping "Park" from the full and proper name and thereby failing to disclose the land is presently zoned "Park and Open Space." The short notice, compounded by misinformation emanating from the City of Knoxville, had the effect that Knoxville residents have not been given the opportunity for "extensive" public review and input concerning development of their public park land.
Please request a 60 day delay to allow meaningful public discussion to take place. The September 23 public meeting revealed the City had not considered alternative sites, despite alternative sites available within less than half a mile of the park land selected for development. Public park land should not be conveyed to a private developer lightly, or in a rushed fashion. Due diligence requires a 60 day delay of the proposal.