Aug 28 2015
03:18 pm
By: michael kaplan

Cottage Landing, up to 87 student housing units (348 rooms), requiring ridgetop removal that is dumping huge boulders into the valley to the west of the site. Here's a satellite image apparently taken a few weeks ago. Anyone wishing to view the environmental damage in progress should take a drive up Cherokee Trail. Note, too, the huge slice of the ridge taken for the construction of Quarry Trail to its east. Erosion is being mitigated by the construction of retaining walls (seen as grey lines) and the planting of kudzu on the steep slope.

The project is in the county, and was approved by the MPC in March, 2013.

All members of City Council, County Commission, and the MPC should take (or be taken on) a tour of the site to see the mess. It's really hard to believe this is happening in 2015 ...


michael kaplan's picture

and here's the view from

and here's the view from Cherokee Trail. This was all a heavily forested area.


bp's picture

Ridgetop development in Knox County

When this issue was debated by both Commission and Council including joint workshops, both bodies agreed to support the regulations on hilltop, ridges and slope development. Remember that H/T/S was a response from MPC to concerns about the effect of removal and development in these areas. City Council passed the MPC recommendations but at the last minute, a former County Commissioner who shall remain nameless pressed Commission to not support the plan and Commissioners fell in line. Note that this new development is in Knox County and MPC likely had little discretion when this development came to them. Preventing this type of development was exactly what Hilltops/Ridges/Slopes was designed to prevent.

Rachel's picture

Not exactly. County

Not exactly. County Commission DID adopt the plan. They just added a sentence saying it was advisory - which was a completely unnecessary sentence given the fact that a plan is ALWAYS advisory. But w/o that sentence they probably wouldn't even have adopted the plan, so that Commissioner who shall remain nameless may have not been so awful after all.

MPC staff does use it to calculate recommended densities on lands with large slopes, etc. MPC Commissioners, however, may reject those recommendations. And County Commission can reject what MPC passes.

I don't know the details of the history of this development's journey through MPC and Commission, but all the MPC agendas/minutes are on its website. Anybody so inclined could look it up.

EDIT: here, did it for you. Here's the link to the staff report on the development plan: (link...). Notice this bit (you could go back and pull the 2006 MPC minutes when the rezoning was done if you're do inclined):

The Planning Commission considered a rezoning request (5-H-06-RZ) for this property on July 24, 2006. The applicant had requested a density of up to 8 du/ac. Staff recommended approval at a density of only 3 du/ac due to the site's environmental constraints. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the PR (Planned Residential) zoning at a density of up to 6.5 du/ac The Knox County Commission approved the rezoning to PR on August 28, 2006 at a density of up to 7.5 du/ac.

So it (sadly) goes. (BTW, that July 24 date is incorrect. MPC meets on the second Thursday. I went back and checked and the rezoning was actually heard at MPC in June, 2006).

And here's a link to the minutes of the meeting where the development plan was approved. (link...).

bp's picture

Thanks for the amendments

Thanks for the amendments Rachel. As noted in a later post, much of the land is in a conservancy type status so this may really be the last development on the ridgetop.

bizgrrl's picture

Adding all of the apartments

Adding all of the apartments on Cherokee Trail has surprised me. It is quite a dangerous road. This narrow, curvy road with ditches for shoulders can be a challenge for anyone, much less young people not paying attention or possibly inebriated.

It appears that after this last project as mentioned by Michael, the remaining land may not be available, hopefully, for additional student housing. The remaining land is owned by UT (162 acres), Cherokee Bluff Owners Council (84 acres), The Aslan Foundation (109 acres), and Legacy Parks (69 acres).

Rachel's picture

For reasons others have

For reasons others have stated, I don't foresee any more large-scale development on Cherokee Trail. Thank god.

And contrary to Dick Graf's comment in those MPC meeting minutes that "Cherokee Trail is going to be widened" - it's not. City Engineering did make a bunch of safety and drainage improvements, but widening that road would cost gazillions of $$. And destroy even more wilderness than has already been destroyed.

michael kaplan's picture

And those developments do

And those developments do have shuttle buses that operate between the housing and campus.

Some of the background to these projects can be found in my 2007 article Trail of Tears, along with a view of the Quarry Trail development before construction actually began.

michael kaplan's picture


the damage has become far worse, with tons of rock tossed over the side of the ridge on the trail side.

michael kaplan's picture

Mercury article

Average Guy's picture

By there today

Absolutely unbelievable. Pictures give little perspective as to the scope of what's been done there.

I'd imagine if a coal company came to Knoxville and proposed something like that, they'd be laughed out of town.

That area leaders came up with something called the Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Plan, that it had 30 authors, that they met 90 times and $400k was spent - would make for good comedy if it weren't so sad.

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