‘The French Market’ owner addresses construction concerns at Knoxville City Council meeting

Council members gathered in the Main Assembly room at the City Council building to discuss construction, zoning and red light cameras on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The French Market and red light traffic cameras were among topics of discussion during the Knoxville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Allen Tate, owner of The French Market, stated his concerns about a board wall in front of his business during the Public Forum segment. He said the wall has been there for 17 weeks and prevents his customers, especially those in a wheelchair, from entering and exiting his restaurant with ease. Tate said the wall has no roof to provide any protection from falling construction objects and has no reason to exist in front of his business.

 “We’ve been here for nine years,” Tate said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to be treated this way and for [the city council] to look the other way.”

Tate asked for the City Council to limit the developers from adding walls or something similar in front of businesses like his. Tate also said that he was told 30 days would be the maximum amount of time the wall would be there and was put up in the second week of May.

“He hasn’t started any construction,” Tate said.

According to Rick Emmett, downtown coordinator for the City of Knoxville, the structure was added for safety reasons. However, Emmett agrees that with no roof on the wall, there is a problem. He said the tunnel was created so customers will go to The French Market instead of accidently wandering off into the construction zone.

Lauren Rider, a librarian at Pellissippi State who is running for City Council next year, said she thinks the two parties need to have a mediator to solve the construction zone issues surrounding The French Market.

“In some regards, it sounds a little outside the scope for City Council,” Rider said. “That was my initial reaction.”

Deputy Chief Kenny Miller spoke to the Council on the installation of traffic cameras at red lights in multiple locations. With these unmanned traffic cameras, photos will be taken of vehicles running red lights, which will then be sent to a police officer. Miller clarified that this would only be used for running red lights and not turning right on red.

“Once the camera takes the picture, the vendor begins to initially…if they see a violation, it is then sent to the police department,” Miller said. “A police officer reviews the footage. If the police officer agrees there’s a violation, then a citation is issued; but, [the citation] is not issued until an officer has reviewed it.”

Mayor Madeline Rogero began the meeting by celebrating Councilman Mark Campen’s birthday and Knoxville’s 225th anniversary of its founding. The actual date of the anniversary is Oct. 3. Rogero listed several events throughout the weekend in celebration including Dinner on the Bridge and events on Gay Street.

Former Councilman Larry Cox and Deborah Thomas also spoke about concerns of down zoning and single-family homes. Thomas said there is a service alley that runs parallel to Central Street and the single-family housing ends at that alley. She also said she and Cox have no objection, but said it was a study and knows the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) would finalize it.

The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.

Featured image by Kaitlin Flippo

Edited by Ben Webb