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FMPC discusses sign ordinance change

Sign ordinances were a main topic of discussion during the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting Thursday, Sept. 16.

Discussion about Farragut’s rules regarding commercial signage stemmed from a request from Harriman Oil Company to amend the Farragut Municipal Code, Chapter 4, Sign Ordinance, Section 9-407 regarding legal nonconforming signs. Owners wish to replace their sign at the Dixie Lee Shell gas station located at 16289 Highway 70E. The sign, which was built prior to being annexed by the town, does not conform to sign requirements but falls under the legal nonconforming sign ordinance.

If the sign was replaced, the ordinance reads that it should be brought into compliance. The applicant asked that the FMPC allow the sign to be updated without complying with current sign ordinances. The commission moved to vote on the amendment at its next meeting.

Dr. Nanji Shekhat, owner of West Park Inn, 11320 Outlet Dr., addressed the board because his business is facing the same issue. When the owners changed the name of the business (and the sign) from Knight’s Inn to West Park Inn, the once legal nonconforming sign should have been brought into compliance and the height and scale modified according to the sign ordinance.

Shekhat asked that the Commission consider that West Park Inn has no visibility from the Interstate. Commission chairman Bob Hill remarked, “the removal of this sign … will eliminate his business and we’re not in the business to do that.”

Hill, after a suggestion by Mayor Eddy Ford, asked that the town staff create a sign ordinance dealing with situations such as Shekhat’s.

Ruth Hawk, town community development director, advised that the issue would first need to be reviewed by Farragut’s Visual Resources Review Board. She also suggested that Shekhat meet with town staff in order to discuss his sign and determine the appropriate ordinance amendment request.

While in the amendment process, Shekhat’s West Park Inn sign may remain on the site.

About the issue, Farragut resident Ed Whiting told the Commission he opposed modifying the general sign ordinance but added, “I do not object to addressing very specific issues for very specific circumstances that make sense.”

Also suggested during the workshop portion of the meeting was the need for a major road improvement.

Commissioner Fred Jones commented on the need for the expansion of Virtue Road before the Commission approved a request for rezoning that would create additional traffic on the heavily traveled road.

The Commission moved to approve the rezoning request made by Steve Bethel of a portion of Parcel 52, Tax Map 152, 12331 Turkey Creek Road, 116.26 Acres, known as the Galbraith farm, bound by Kingsgate, Turkey Creek Woods and Brixworth subdivisions, from Agriculture to R-1 and OSR.

Before the vote, Jones commented on the current and projected amount of traffic on Virtue Road. He added, “It’s a very dangerous intersection down there where Turkey Creek and Evans [Road] come into that area. … I would use this opportunity to encourage the town to put Virtue Road on the five-year plan the next time this comes under review.”

In the Mayor’s Report, Ford announced that the town had been awarded a $90,000 state environment and conservation grant allocated to build additional walking trails and the base for a picnic shelter at Campbell Station Park. Ford said he expected the project to be completed in mid-summer 2005.

Ford also reported on the property tax revenue Knox County will collect from Farragut residents this year. Knox County will collect $12,606,000 on 7,597 parcels of property appraised at $425,906,890.

After the report, Chairman Hill commented, “I hope the school board observes that number.”

In other FMPC business:

• The Commission postponed the public hearing brought by Joseph D. Chalmers on a resubdivision of Parcels 16, 17 and 18, Tax Map 152BB, 12027 and 12031 South Fox Den Drive and 12002 Broadmoor Point, Fox Den Village, Zoned R-2, approximately 1.5 acres, to move interior property lines.

• The Commission unanimously approved a request by Stephen Byrd for a resubdivision of Parcels 27 and 27.01, Tax Map 142DA, 11217 and 11221 Sonja Drive, Farragut View Subdivision, Zoned R-2, 1.371 Acres, to move an interior property line.

• The Commission also approved a final plat submitted by Rivergate, LLC for Inverness-Unit 3, Zoned R-2, 24 Lots, 16.08 Acres.

• The Commission also moved to recommend the approval of the rezoning of a portion of Parcel 29, Tax Map 151, the remaining portion of Mayor Bob Leonard Park that fronts on Harrison Road, from C-1 to OS-P.


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