City Council Examines Property Use and Parking (story for web)

Knoxville City Council made a decision Tuesday that could spell the future of shared parking for new businesses.

A debate over shared parking raised questions about the use of older commercial properties in Knoxville that lack parking space.

The council denied an appeal by Maha Ayesh. Ayesha lives on Lockett Road, and was appealing a unanimous decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow Abridged Beer Company owner Jesse Bowers to amend the required number of parking spaces at his new restaurant from 43 to zero.

“The proposed establishment is described as a brewery and restaurant. I’m going to refer to it as bar, because that’s what I see it as, is a bar,” Ayesh said.

Neighbors were concerned about reckless driving, noise, and patrons parking on the street in front of their homes.

“It can’t be injurious to the neighborhood. We’re very concerned that it will be injurious.”

“I know I’m going to have people come down through my yard, maybe some of them will park in my yard,” said longtime homeowner Gene Herrill.

Bowers made an alternative, shared parking agreement with nearby Erin Presbyterian Church to allow restaurant goers to use their lot, a plan that offers little comfort to angry neighbors. As neighbors pointed out, the church hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the restaurant will have hours on Sundays.

The council noted the lack of other options; every establishment allowed in the general commercial zone requires parking that doesn’t exist at this property.

“The issue is really the parking, and it sounds like the opposition is really based on the use. There’s no use of this property without some type of variance,” said Councilman Marshall Stair.

The appeal was denied, and Abridged Beer Company will be continuing with its plans.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Reem Abdelrazek, who was there to support her neighbor’s appeal. “I feel like we were blindsided.”


Ayesh speaking before the council at the meeting on September 13.

A portion of the appeal documents filed by Ayesh.

Knox County sophomore brings dress code issues before board of education

IMG_0312.JPGThe debate over dress code in Knox County Schools took center stage during the public forum portion of the board of education’s meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Farragut High School sophomore Hollie Sikes identified herself before the board by saying, “You may know me as the girl who started the dress code petition.”

Sikes pointed out that she had never been reprimanded for breaking Knox County’s dress code, but knew people who had been “called out and embarrassed” over what they were wearing.

“The reason I started this petition, sincerely, was because in our day and age it is nearly impossible to find girls’ shorts that come below fingertip length,” Sikes said.

This is in reference to what’s called “the fingertip rule,” which is applied to female students in Knox County. The rule states that a student’s hemline must never rise above their fingertips. Specifically, Sikes questioned the fairness of girls having to buy all new clothes for hot school days.

“When school comes around,” said Sikes, “we are forced to spend money on brand new clothes that we will never wear outside of school.”

Sikes also noted that teachers did not seem to be held to the same standards as students.

“I have seen teachers wearing tank tops calls girls and boys alike down for wearing something similar.”

According to Sikes, the idea for the petition started with a joke she made to her friends in a group chat. On August 13, when she posted her petition on, she said the hope was for maybe 500 signatures.

By September 7, the date of the meeting, her petition had 3,728 signatures.

“It was wild,” Sikes said. “It had like a thousand signatures in a day.”

Although Sikes has many supporters for her cause, there are some who disagreed with her stance on the issue. Student representative Sydney Rowell is one such case.

“I feel like our dress code is pretty lenient,” Rowell said in response. “I personally don’t see that any changes could be made to the dress code.”

Rowell expressed that more flexible regulations would make dress code unnecessarily hard to enforce for teachers and administrators.

Some of Sikes’s examples about the availability of clothes which are deemed appropriate, such as clothing store Forever 21 only offering two pairs of dress code appropriate shorts, failed to impress board member Tony Norman.

After the meeting, Norman stated, “I’m sorry, there’s the internet. You can order anything. That’s not a valid argument.”

Norman also said he would not be in favor of changing the dress code in any way.

For Sikes and her thousands of supporters online, the future of the dress code still remains unclear.

This article was published by The Tennessee Journalist on September 8th, 2016. The post on that website can be found here:

Knox County sophomore brings dress code issues before board of education


Knoxville City Council Denies Parkside Drive Rezoning

 Residents of the Cogdill Road subdivision in Knox County were victorious on Tuesday in their battle to keep the office land near their homes zoned as is.

Land Rover Knoxville, owned by Sam Furrow, was seeking to expand the dealership currently located at 10215 Parkside Dr. in Knoxville onto a nearby property. Knoxville City Council denied the request to have that property rezoned after hearing the concerns of nearby residents.

Council members voted 6-3 to deny the rezoning request. George Wallace, Brenda Palmer, and Nick Pavlis supported the rezoning.

Cogdill Road residents filled several rows at Tuesday’s meeting to make their opinions known. Three community members spoke in opposition. Mr. Furrow did not attend; Rick Hinchey, chief financial officer of Land Rover Knoxville, and Lanny Cope of Cope Architecture spoke on behalf of his business.

Mr. Hinchey described efforts to address the neighborhood’s concerns, including the promise of installing “a wooden privacy/security fence” on either side of the “dense landscape buffer” that is included in the plan for the expanded dealership.

“Mr. Furrow, he wants to be a good neighbor, minimize the impact of the property’s use to the neighbors,” Mr. Hinchey said.

Mr. Cope displayed the updated plan, saying it “exceeds every requirement of the C-6 zone.”

Brian Johnson, resident of Land Oak Road, asked the council to deny the request on the grounds that “an office is much different than a car dealership.” He was referring to an agreement reached in 2008 in which the property was zoned for offices.

Wallace was skeptical of the neighborhood’s concerns. He said “I just don’t think the whole world’s going to fall in,” by way of addressing the concerns about falling property values, noise, and 24-hour light.

Vice Mayor Grieve pointed out other property farther down Parkside Drive that could be used for expansion. “What I think some of you are saying is, let’s sell out the neighborhood for business when there is other opportunities for Mr. Furrow,” he said.

The attending residents spontaneously cheered when the motion to deny was approved.

Ashley Key, who recently moved to the area so her 17-month-old daughter could grow up in a place with a neighborhood feel, said “I’m pretty happy, cause now I can walk my dog and walk with my daughter and teach her to ride a bike and not have to worry about cut-through traffic.”

Mr. Furrow’s representatives declined to comment.

Wallace, who supported the rezoning because his real estate experience led him to believe it was “appropriate,” said he assumes Mr. Furrow will find the highest and best use for the property in its current zone.