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Background Report

Environmental Constraints
Map 6: Environmental Constraints

The topography of the West City Sector is a result of its geologic composition and the effects of later weathering. Major roads and landmarks demonstrate how the area’s topography has had a strong influence on the pattern of development. Two low ridges extend east to west through the sector. The northernmost of these is the broad shelf of shale and sandstone described previously; the other is relatively steep and narrow and runs from Lyons View Pike through Westmoreland Estates to Nubbin Ridge. Fourth Creek flows south, cutting across both of these ridges and empties into Fort Loudoun Lake. The terrain generally rises to the west end of the sector, where the ridges widen out into rolling hills. Elevations in the sector range from 813 feet along the shoreline of Fort Loudoun Lake to 1120 feet in the Kingston Hills area.

Approximately 40% of the sector has a slope of less than 6%, and almost all this land is intensively developed. The large-scale commercial and industrial sites, parking lots and sports fields in the sector are almost exclusively on land with little or no slope. Most multi-family housing complexes are also on flat land. Development is concentrated along Kingston Pike, running along the two valleys through Bearden and then parallel to I-40/75. This intense development extends a great depth from Kingston Pike as topography will allow.
gently rolling landscape
Most of the gently rolling landscape is characterized by older, attractive subdivisions.

Another 55% of the sector consists of gentle slopes between 6% and 15%. These areas are largely single-family lots along the flatter sections of the two ridges and further west and south. Some intensive development continues up the Bearden Hill section of Kingston Pike. Several clusters of multi-family housing are also situated on mildly sloping or rolling land.

Moderate slopes between 16% and 25% exist along various portions of the length of the sector’s two ridges, and are connected in four areas: Forest Heights, Bearden Hill, Kingston Hills and the northern portion of Sequoyah Hills. Slopes steeper than 25% exist only in the bluffs on the outside bends of Fort Loudoun Lake (at Lyons View and below the Armstrong-Lockett House).

The West City is drained toward the west by Ten Mile Creek and Sinking Creek, toward the east by Third Creek, and to the south by Fourth Creek. All these creeks and their tributaries eventually empty into the Tennessee River (now Fort Loudoun Lake). Sinking Creek and Ten Mile Creek flow into sinkholes beyond the sector boundary, and follow underground passages to the lake.

The Environmental Constraints Map shows the areas prone to flooding, which are defined by the elevation of a 500-year flood. The east and west ends of the sector are at the upper elevations of their respective drainage basins, and are undisrupted by rising creek levels. Nonetheless, continued development in these areas can lead to increased runoff. Increased flows of stormwater and silt may block sinkholes, leading to serious flooding problems at lower elevations. Flooding is most likely along Fourth Creek and its tributaries, which drain a large portion of the center of the sector, along the inside bend of Fort Loudoun Lake near Cherokee Boulevard. Some of these areas lie within the boundary of the 500-year floodplain, and have a 0.2% chance of being flooded in any given year. Most forms of development should be avoided within the floodplain. Under recently adopted ordinances, the city and county limit fill to 50% of the floodplain area.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wetlands Inventory (1989) classifies two arms of Fourth Creek and approximately 15 acres along the shoreline near Lakeshore Mental Health Institute as semi-permanently flooded wetlands. The survey also classifies part of Third Creek as seasonally flooded wetlands.


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