County Mayor Tim Burchett's First Big Test

County Mayor Tim Burchett is involved in one of the first major tests of his term. He is using a 60-day delay by Knox County Commission to try to resolve the thorny problem of the Midway business park. Burchett is in sympathy with East Knox County residents who do not want the development, but he also has to figure a way for the county to recoup millions already spent.

Burchett is soliciting ideas from East Knox residents, developers, and others to try to resolve the situation and will hold two more public meetings.

Burchett was critical of Knox County industrial policy during his campaign, which did not endear him to the Chamber of Commerce. Residents have objected to the property simply being sold to a private developer because of the uncertainty of what would replace the business park. A key objection for residents is that a sewage plan for the park would also open up surrounding areas for development, though the Chamber says the sewage plan is totally on-site and would not be available for other uses.

The solution is likely to be a compromise that causes heartburn for residents and the Chamber. Whatever Burchett proposes has to be approved by County Commission in the East Knox Sector Plan.