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Aquatic buffer takes heat

Building near a natural water feature in Farragut may become a thing of the past if the town passes its proposed Aquatic Buffer Ordinance.

The issue, which was workshopped at the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission May 5 meeting, met resistance from several townsmen.

“It’s like government just taking away our land,” land owner Steve Williams said regarding his property that has a stream crossing it.

“The stream divides my property,” Williams told the Commission. “I can’t build a bridge to get from one side of my property to the other without a permit.”

Attorney and former Farragut Mayor Robert “Bob” Leonard added that the ordinance, as proposed, would render his client’s, Pinnacle Management Company, Grigsby Chapel Road project dead considering that a 100-foot buffer would be established along a stream that dissects the parcel.

According to the Aquatic Buffer Ordinance draft: “establishing and maintaining aquatic buffers are intended to improve water quality in the town of Farragut. The town is currently out of compliance and our streams are 303(d) listed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. This ordinance, in conjunction with the Stormwater Ordinance, is intended to improve water quality in the town of Farragut, to permanently remove Farragut’s waterways from TDEC’s 303(d) list, and to comply with state and federal regulations.”

A committee appointed by FMPC chairman Robert Hill was charged with drafting the ordinance. The committee is headed by Commissioner Stephen Hildebrand with Commissioners Fred Jones and Holly Kelly as members. Hildebrand, as head, appointed Oak Ridge National Laboratories’ Michael Ryon and town staffers Ruth Hawk and Shari Cox to the committee.

Hildebrand, reporting on behalf of the committee, said that after looking at the North Branch, Little Turkey and Turkey creeks along with their network of feeder streams – all first, second and third order streams — 816 of the town’s 8,123 total parcels fall on town of Farragut streams. Of those, 124 fall under existing zoning regulations, 543 are developed residential and 149 parcels are undeveloped, which would be affected by the ordinance.

According to town records, the 149 parcels represent 909.7 acres impacted with a total of 162.4 acres more or less condemned.

Ryon said regarding the 50-to-100-foot buffer along the streams, “Vegetated aquatic buffers are the universally preferred tool for managing non-point sources of sediment.”

Sediment is one of the chief pollutants TDEC has recognized in Farragut streams.

To address sediment, the proposed ordinance states: “Aquatic buffers serve as natural boundaries between local waterways and development. They protect water quality by filtering sediment, pollutants and nutrients from runoff. Buffers are also essential in flood control, stream bank stabilization, stream temperature control and permitting the natural lateral movement of the stream channel. The aquatic corridor, where land and water meet, warrants special protection in the form of buffers.”

Williams argued that the town of Farragut with its existing erosion control ordinances already established buffer zone around streams.

David Hagerman, who works with the City of Knoxville’s aquatic buffer ordinance, told the Commission not to “look at our buffer zone ordinance.”

Hagerman said the City of Knoxville was too lax in its buffering and was now in the process of having to use tax dollars to purchase housing built alongside Knoxville streams in order to tear them down to establish a more effective buffer.

Knoxville streams feed into Turkey Creek.

Hildebrand and Hill reminded those gathered that this was the first public hearing on the ordinance and that more would be held. Hill said that public input was welcomed.

In other business, the Commission voted:

• Unanimously to approve a correction requested by Wallace Clark Jr. and Michael E. Luethke to plat a shared access easement at 12041 and 12045 Grigsby Chapel Road.

• Unanimously to approve a request by Partners & Associates, Inc. to rezone a portion of 11400 Parkside Dr. from O-1-3 to O-1-5.

• Unanimously to approve a request by R.L. Hobbs and James R. White to rezone a parcel located on the northeast corner of Old Stage and South Hobbs roads from R-1 and OSR to R-1.

• Unanimously to approve a request to amend the preliminary plat for The Farm at Willow Creek to delete a previous approved “subject to” item.

• Unanimously to approve a request by Myers Brothers Holdings to amend the site plan for the Renaissance/Farragut to reduce the buffer strip from 35 feet to 25 feet.

• Unanimously to approve the Capital Improvements Plan for Fiscal Years 2006-2010.


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