Communities are always changing, moved by shifting expectations of new homebuyers, shoppers, and business owners. Consider how you can work with developers in directing change that meets the needs of both long-time neighbors and new ones alike.
Join or establish a community group.
Many citizens form a neighborhood group only after new development has been proposed. Having an established group which meets regularly makes it easier to interact with developers. Many of the more successful community groups also invite to their meetings elected officials and planning commissioners who live nearby.
Meet with the developer.
If the developer doesn't contact your group, take the initiative and arrange an informational meeting. Ask to see renderings and discuss the proposal before plans enter final stages.
Developers may have good ideas you haven't considered. For instance, their proposal may include buffering, new sidewalks, added road capacity, or improved community amenities, which may merit neighborhood support rather than protest.
Be specific with concerns.
Residents are often concerned about a new development's impact on the neighborhood. Traffic congestion, school overcrowding, and drainage problems are common worries. Examine issues with facts and statistics - not opinions - to support your position. MPC offers helpful information, such as traffic counts at nearby intersections, the number of vehicle trips per day generated by various types of development, and how many school-age children might be added as a result of new residential projects. Ask MPC staff if the development proposal requires any extra levels of review, like a traffic impact study, a grading plan, or early submission of a drainage plan.
Understand the process.
Some Planning Commission actions are final (unless appealed), like votes on subdivision plats. Many are recommendations, such as those for rezonings, uses on review, Sector Plan amendments, and One Year Plan amendments - they must be heard by Knoxville City Council or Knox County Commission for final action.
Weigh in and stay informed.
Don't wait for change to happen and then react. Take part in the many opportunities for public involvement, such as MPC Sector Plan updates, long-range transportation plan workshops, neighborhood conferences, and meet-the-mayor nights. Sign up for MPC's information feeds via Facebook, Twitter, and Constant Contact.
Meet the neighbors.
Your development proposal will bring changes to a neighborhood, and people living there naturally want to know how those changes will affect them. As soon as possible, reach out to property owners and community groups in the area. Ask to meet with them to share your project, even if details are still uncertain. Check with MPC staff - we may be able to provide neighborhood contacts.
Show renderings of your proposal when you meet with community groups. Share plans for architectural styles, landscaping, detention ponds, and street and parking lot locations.
Residents who have lived in the area for years may have important information that could influence the outcome of your development. And they may have good ideas you haven't considered. For instance, adding a buffer, building a sidewalk, or applying for slightly different zoning may gain neighborhood support rather than protest. Working with the neighbors can make a big difference in how quickly and easily your project moves through regulatory channels.
Earn the neighbors' trust.
As plans become more detailed, build trust by sharing answers to questions about storm water run-off, traffic, entrance locations, street connections, landscaping, lighting, and treatment of special features like wetlands, sinkholes, and steep slopes.
If you've already met with the neighbors, they've seen your plans. But sometimes circumstances change - show the neighbors how your proposal has been altered as it proceeds through MPC and city or county reviews.
Participate in community planning.
Developers are always welcome and encouraged to participate in public meetings and workshops. Also, various pilot projects and taskforces often need representation from the development community. Help guide our area's growth by joining committed citizens and local government representatives at planning events.
Get the information you need.
MPC's website (www.knoxmpc.org) offers considerable information to help neighborhoods and developers:
- MPC meeting agenda and tips on attending
- Contact list of planning commissioners and staff
- Zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, design guidelines
- Plans and studies
- Demographics and development data