Letter: Save West Hills

Just west of the post office on Middlebrook and Weisgarber is 109 acres of beauty.

Wandering the trails and visiting the creek that runs along the hilly base, one can sometimes come across the chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, deer, foxes, turkeys, palliated woodpeckers, red tailed hawks, and coyotes that inhabit the area. I have seen them all.

All this in the city of Knoxville.

It was fortunate this area was doubly protected. The zoning was agricultural and Middlebrook along there was designated as a scenic highway.

But that has changed and the clock is ticking loudly.

Without public notice nor opposition from the city, the protection afforded by the scenic highway designation has been stripped away by our state legislators. The protections brought about by this land having an agricultural zoning now face attack.

What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To the west is a greenway that abruptly ends. Not far to the east are the Bearden greenways. This could be a connector from the far west to downtown. And it is slipping away. It would be one nice legacy to pass on to our children's children, the protecting of this beauty.

The rezoning of this area from agricultural is being sought with a quick follow-up seeking to exceed the building height limitations of the new zoning. Instead of a pristine area of natural beauty filled with bird sounds and wildlife, West Hills will have more paved parking lots, ambulances with blaring sirens careening past elementary and middle schools, and helicopters that will land just feet from my living room window.

North Knoxville loses a hospital but not the need for one nor the patients, while West Knoxville gains another hospital that it does not need and that the city cannot afford.

This site is ill-conceived for interstate access and the traffic that will be generated in the area. It will very likely result in significant costs to the city in revamping streets intended for quiet neighborhoods that already jam to a standstill with the traffic for the schools and post office, and additional traffic controls and demands on all infrastructure, while causing the devastation of the quality of life of this established neighborhood (filled with voters).

This land was intended to be protected with its designation of agricultural on a scenic highway. The city of Knoxville has done nothing to protect this land.

Once it is gone, it is gone forever, but there is still time. Help save this beauty for all future generations. Make your voice heard over the jingle of this corporation's many and big coins.

Tom McDaniel