Last week, I published letters from Mike Brusseau and Gerald Green about the comments opponents of a Beverly Road rezoning were using to take their comments out of context, here.
Now enter Professional Chris Granju, formerly of Knox County Storm Water on this rezoning before Knox County Commission on February 22,2021.
RE: Rezoning File # 1-E-21-RZ
I am writing in support of the proposed subject rezoning request of Randy Guignard/Café International for the change from Industrial and General Residential to Planned Residential at a density of up to 2.51 dwelling units per acre. I am a licensed Professional Engineer with an expertise in Floodplain Management and Stormwater Design, thus my comments address these areas exclusively. I retired from Knox County as the Stormwater Management Director in 2019, having worked on the “front lines” of Knox County’s development since 1995. Prior to this, I worked as a Consulting Engineer, specializing in Stormwater Site Design. I have closely observed development patterns in Knox County for the last 30 years. What I have seen is a constantly changing definition of what constitutes a “developable” site, as the inventory of available land becomes smaller.
I have read the statements regarding this site being the “worst in Knox County”. I also read the report by Dr. James Smoot in response to a similarly located site in the early 2000s. My first-hand experience watching development in our area tells me the accolade of “worst” may be subjective. It is true that by traditional site design standards, this site may at least rank highly. Dr. Smoot is well-respected for his engineering expertise in the field of Hydrology and the assumptions he made in his report are sound. However, his report and the comments on the appropriateness of the subject site are based on a model of site design that is simply not applicable to what is being proposed for the Beverly Road site.
I first learned of the Beverly Road development proposal after being invited to visit the site to discuss possibilities of combining Conservation Practices with a Site Design. On site, I observed an area suitable for development, sandwiched between a slope and a natural floodplain area. The floodplain area was in generally good condition. Mr. Guignard expressed an interest in preserving the natural assets of the land and I suggested a “Conservation Site Design” would be appropriate, though not yet widely used in Knox County. I also noted the parallels between this site and the successful Harrell Road Stormwater Park along Beaver Creek in the Karns community. Frankly, I was excited about the potential that existed with the Beverly Road site, when traditional thinking may not recognize the opportunity.
There are many names for “Conservation Site Design” techniques, but the key feature is simple: land disturbance is clustered in the appropriate areas while the environmentally sensitive areas are protected. Mr Guignard’s proposal does this. In fact, his proposal exceeds the minimum floodplain development requirements, by keeping development out of the floodplain and off of the steep slopes. His proposal uses innovative Stormwater Mitigation Practices that enhance infiltration and thus work to address the real issue driving the ever-growing flooding concerns in Knox County: runoff volume. This design approach addresses water quality impacts in a simple, efficient manner by reducing disturbed areas and making use of natural techniques to mitigate water quality impacts. The proposed site is engineered to function as close to a natural site within the watershed as possible. This is a great idea for this site and a can serve as model for future site development in Knox County.
Many people view land development and conservation as mutually exclusive concepts. With innovation in design, that idea can be retired. Today’s challenges call for new techniques and the proposed Beverly Road project will provide Knox County with a good example.
I urge Commission to approve the rezoning as requested. I will be available via Zoom during the County Commission meeting on 2/22/2021 to discuss the details.
Chris Granju, P.E.
Knox County Stormwater Management Director 1995-2019