The good thing about burning issues is folks get active in process

2-3-2002

by John Stiles of The Knoxville News-Sentinel

Few issues stir up the citizenry like those affecting their homes or children.

Any educator knows that most any change in the schools' routines can bring a near-revolution.

It's the same with property. Both are similar in that if you aren't affected, you couldn't care less.

Two land issues in the last two weeks have had homeowners at the Blount County Courthouse.

One hot topic was the plan to extend the Pellissippi Parkway from Old Knoxville Highway to Lamar Alexander Parkway.

When the pasture land is on one side of a four-lane highway and the barn on the other, you've got a mess.

The old circuit courtroom at the courthouse is now county commission's meeting place.

It holds a bunch of people. On Tuesday night, it was overflowing with people opposed to the Pellissippi Parkway extension.

One invited group - the Tennessee Department of Transportation - was not there.

They are the people who will select one of two routes unless the opponents' group gets the project stopped.

The other was the request for approval to expand by the Werner Center on Holston College Road.

The Werner Center, operated by the Helen Ross McNabb Center, serves youth with drug and alcohol problems.

Residents of the fast-growing area acknowledged the need for such services, but expressed concern for their "safety and security."

Basically, they were concerned about runaways coming to their homes. The Werner Center is on beautiful farm property, not in some city row house.

Homes in the area are "nice," many housing retirees who have sunk much of their life savings into them.

The week before last, a contingent of homeowners appeared before the Blount County Planning Commission and convinced commissioners to turn down the expansion.

The request was rejected even though the commission's own lawyer had opined it was legal.

It's not the purpose of this column to take a side in these issues. Both parties believe they are doing the right thing.

However, people who would have thought they would never appear before a public body found themselves speaking their minds.

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Copyright 2002 The News-Sentinel