A rezoning to be considered by Oak Ridge officials next week proposes about 200 homes on 32 acres near South Illinois Avenue and Centrifuge Way in south Oak Ridge.
The property is currently zoned industrial. The request, if approved, would rezone it as low-density residential. The request will be considered by the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission on Thursday.
The property, which is currently vacant, is owned by Commercial Bank. It’s in an area north of South Illinois Avenue and the Summit, south of Mitchell Road and Crossroads at Wolf Creek, east of Lafayette Drive and Midway Lane, and west of Centrus (formerly known as USEC in a building once used by Boeing) and the University of Tennessee Arboretum.
The potential developer is not named in a review of the rezoning request by the Oak Ridge municipal staff.
“The applicant states that the prospective developer for the property plans to develop the site with approximately 200 single-family detached units,” the review said. “This site is 32.32 acres, which would only allow for 176 single-family units, based on the minimum lot area of 8,000 square feet. This does not account for area dedicated to sidewalks, rights-of-way, road, and the required landscape buffer, which would be roughly 25 percent of the 32 acres. Considering this, only approximately 130 single-family units would be permitted by right with the R-2 (low-density residential) zoning designation. Variation from those requirements would require a planned unit development overlay, which would have to come back to the Planning Commission and then to City Council for two readings.”
Duplexes and single-family attached dwellings are a permitted use in the R-2 zoning district, the city staff said, and that could increase the potential density from 130 to 260 units.
The city staff has recommended that the rezoning be approved and that an associated land use plan map amendment also be approved.
The land use plan amendment, which would change the area from business park to medium-density residential, could help lead to more residential development near the city’s center, which would centralize activity in and around downtown, the city staff said.
“This results in a more vibrant central core, enhancing its identity, image, and sense of place,” the staff said in its review. “It would also reduce vehicular miles traveled in the city and conserve open space and the natural environment in other parts of the city.”
The staff said there is rapid growth of residential development in the city limits, and there is limited land available.
The staff also said the change would preclude the area from being used for commercial or retail purposes, which in turn would help to concentrate those uses in the new Main Street Oak Ridge development in central Oak Ridge.
“Increasing density in Main Street would allow for more compact development with a diversity of business uses,” the city staff said. “This would activate the space and create more opportunities for social interaction.”
Finally, the staff said, the change would preclude the area from being used for industrial purposes, which would presumably help encourage those uses in the Heritage Center, a developing industrial park at the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge.
“The staff believes that the city has a duty to consolidate such industrial activities in a thoughtful, cohesive manner,” the staff said.
The area under consideration in the rezoning request is within an industrial office subarea, “a sprawling collection of light industrial and office facilities that stretches southward from Emory Valley Road at Lafayette Drive to Bethel Valley Road,” the municipal staff said. “It has elements that range from relatively dense urban areas to low density suburban clusters—offices, research parks, and light industry. Some of it is normal urban activity, automobile repair, and business offices, some of it is high tech industry and research. The physical development reflects that diversity of activities in a series of relatively small enclaves where like uses cluster.”
The Planning Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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