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Gables & Gates receives variance nod from FMPC

A local real estate agency attempts to design streets at lower design speeds crossed a major hurdle last week.

The Farragut Municipal Planning Commission approved all of Gables & Gates’ requests for variances from the town’s 35 mph street design speed to 30 and 25 mph on some streets.

The vote came after Mayor Eddy Ford stated at the May 6 FMPC meeting that persons involved in accidents on roads designed at slower speeds could possibly sue the commission members.

Tom Hale, the town’s attorney, said that scenario was highly unlikely.

“Generally members of committees are not called (to court). The law of the state is there to encourage people like you to give your time to make the town better,” he said. “These are the type of judgmental decisions that are covered.”

Hale said he could not totally “assure anybody that they will not be sued.”

“Hopefully it would get thrown out before it got too far,” he added.

Ford contended that persons involved in accidents could possibly sue commission members if lack of consideration for factor of safety could be proven.

“The issue tonight is if we grant a variance are we doing something that is below the standard of care,” Ford said. “Some of the variances they are asking from the town do not have consideration for factor of safety.”

Hale said since the FMPC was considering design speeds that were not below the town’s 25 mph posted speed limit, the likelihood of a suit being brought against a commission member was slim.

“It would be something else if they asked for a variance to twenty miles per hour,” he said. “I don’t think you should be concerned about personally liability.”

At the May 6 FMPC meeting, Jerry Whitehead, co-owner of Gables & Gates, said there could be greater liability by leaving the street design speeds at 35 mph.

“I think there is going to be greater liability for not doing anything about it … designing roads faster with wider streets,” he said.

He also stated that narrower streets would slow drivers down, call for less environmental disturbance and possibly save more trees.

Ford later voted against seven of the variances, commissioner Fred Jones voted against four and commissioner Bob Edlund voted against three.

Jones questioned whether or not the streets would be wide enough for emergency vehicles to maneuver through.

“What about fire trucks? What about ambulances trying to maneuver on twenty-two-foot streets” he said. “I have some reservations with the twenty-two-foot design.”

Most of the variances requested were for the more than 320-acre, 441 lot developments’ cult-a-sacs and loops.

If the variance requests are approved by the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen streets designed at 30 mph would be 24 feet from edge of pavement to edge of pavement, 25 mph streets would be 22 feet.

In other FMPC business:

• The FMPC voted unanimously to approve the final plat for Fox Run — unit 7, 80 lots, zoned R-1, 69.26 acres (Fox Run, Inc., applicant).

• The FMPC voted unanimously to approve the Annexation Ordinance and Plan of Services for the Concord Road Urban Growth Area, which lies on the east side of Concord Road between Norfolk Southern Railroad and approximately 170 feet north of Loop Road.


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