The Daily Plan-It: Summer Slaughter, Shakespeare on the Square, and Johnny Astro and the Big Bang

Good morning! We’ve got some plans for you, if you need some!

At noon, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church will have a gentle yoga and meditation class. Donations will be accepted. For more info call (865) 577-2021 or email

Summer Slaughter 2014 starts at 2 p.m. at the International, and will feature Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, the Faceless, and more. Tickets are $25-$50. For more info, and to purchase tickets, check out the International’s website.

If you’ve got time to fit in a workout this evening, check out the pilates class at Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which starts at 6:30. The first class you take there is free, then $4 per class or $24 for a month of classes. For more info call (865) 622-3103 or email

The Tennessee Stage Company will present Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing at 7 p.m. on Market Square as part of the Shakespeare on the Square series. It’s free to attend!

Wrap up the night at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria, where local indie rockers Johnny Astro and the Big Bang will perform with Gillian and Hudson K. 21+ only.

Community Leaders Want MPC Head Mark Donaldson Fired

About a month ago, we wrote a story about Metropolitan Planning Commission Executive Director Mark Donaldson hiring former MPC Executive Director/Haslam staffer/very close friend Dave Hill. Donaldson hired Hill to replace MPC’s director of comprehensive planning,  Mike Carberry, who retired after  26 years at the agency, but gave Hill the added title “Deputy Director,” even though MPC already has a deputy director, Buz Johnson.

In our story we noted that a large number of MPC employees were angry about the hire, feeling that Donaldson had violated the agency’s hiring policy as laid out in the employee handbook. They also weren’t happy Hill was brought in with a salary of $100,000 during a year when no one else is getting raises because of a tight budget. They also noted Hill’s salary is more than what Carberry had made and more than what MPC’s ostensible second-in-command, Johnson, makes—and he’s been at the agency since 1977.

Well, apparently our story, following on the heels of several critical columns by Victor Ashe and years of general discontent, has spurred a number of community leaders and neighborhood organizers to call for Donaldson to leave MPC. Actually,  let’s amend that—the group is calling for the planning Commission itself, which appoints the agency’s director, to get rid of Donaldson.

Here’s the letter that was sent last week to every MPC commissioner, along with Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and each member of City Council and County Commission (although the latter two bodies have no influence over MPC, the group says it wanted to keep them abreast of what’s going on): Continue reading

More From a Fountain City Resident on City’s Proposed Community Garden Rules

Maybe you didn’t catch it in the post on the city’s public meeting on proposed community garden regulations that the office of sustainability is developing, but I put out a call for one meeting attendee to email me, since I didn’t get a chance to speak more with her after the meeting.

Carlene Malone is the “Fountain City resident,” and she was kind enough to email me about the points she hoped to convey to the city, especially in regard to Zach Smith’s desire to use his land to garden for himself. Her main problem with the presentation is that she was under the impression that people who garden for themselves would have to register their gardens as “community gardens” with the city (though office of sustainability project manager Jake Tisinger said there would be no registration fee).

“What that would do is bring Mr. Smith needlessly under a new set of city regs … So I don’t see how the community garden name helps Mr. Smith,” Malone writes in an email.

It was established at the meeting that folks like Smith will not be bothered if they grow produce on their land, and as Malone points out, landowners who don’t have a house on a piece of property can still get a permit to grow crops as a primary use of land.

The focus of the meeting, however, was specifically community gardens, such as the once-popular Parkridge Community Garden, where multiple people used the land to grow produce. The city largely avoided talking about personal gardens at the meeting.

But Malone is also concerned with prevent neighborhood eyesores if gardens get abandoned. And to prevent that, she says there needs to be a fee and permit attached to registering a community garden.

“If the ‘garden’ becomes an abandoned mess, I don’t want to call codes enforcement and be told some [version] of ‘…the garden is going to be re-established very soon.  We are giving them more time.  It is not really abandoned.  They plan to work on it.’  If there is an annual permit and fee, then the abandoned garden is no more at the end of that permitting period unless someone takes positive action and signs forms and writes a check.,” Malone says.

Abandoned gardens were pretty much dropped as a topic of discussion at the July 14 meeting after office of sustainability director Erin Gill shot down garden permit fees by saying property owners already pay property taxes. But after the meeting, Tisinger did say enforcement of codes violations specifically by community gardeners would be aided with the registration of those gardens.

Nothing further about the proposed regulations have come from the city since the meeting, and probably won’t for another couple of months. But stay tuned!

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