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Aquatic Buffer prompts called meeting Wednesday

The Aquatic Buffer Ordinance will be the subject of a special “called meeting” of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 25.

The meeting will be a continuation of the FMPC meeting held Thursday, May 5, at which time the Aquatic Buffer Ordinance draft was first introduced to the public through a presentation by FMPC Commissioner Stephen Hildebrand and members of a special committee – Commissioners Fred Jones and Holly Kelly appointed by FMPC chair Robert Hill.

At issue is the depth of the buffer the committee has proposed for streams and what the committee has described as seeps, which ranges from 25 feet to 100 feet.

Land owner Steve Williams, owner of Patriot’s Corner on Kingston Pike, said that if the ordinance passes as it is presently drawn he wouldn’t be able to cross over a ditch on his property that depending on rain sporadically has water flow throughout the year.

“I would have to get a permit in order to cross from one side to the other,” Williams said.

“My property, Patriot’s Corner, down on Kingston Pike already has a hundred-foot buffer between it and the stream that runs behind it,” Williams said. “That property wouldn’t be affected unless a tenant moved in and desired building alterations, which couldn’t be done now unless the same building footprint is maintained.”

Farragut property and farragutpress owner Douglas Horne said his concerns lie in the fact that the ordinance potentially allows the town to take property without compensation for the land owner.

“Cities have to be careful they don’t indirectly confiscate people’s property with new laws or ordinances,” Horne said. “This particular one [the Aquatic Buffer Ordinance] will amount to confiscating people’s property without compensation. This particular ordinance is well overboard on the distance from the stream. It’s somewhere around a hundred feet from the top of the stream, which is totally overreaching and effectively results in the confiscation of people’s property.”

Horne said that sound reasoning by members of the Commission and Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen would prevail in the final draft of the ordinance, “… I’m confident that they will change this,” adding, “If a good engineering design can be made to let the property be developed; you have to go with the engineering and let that be done. You have to maintain water quality, but you don’t have to go overboard and confiscate people’s property. If an engineering solution will suffice then that’s what should be used.”

Commissioner Jones, who owns property that would be affected by the ordinance, said that at present the draft of the ordinance would affect $23 million in property.

Jones sain, “Basically, the reason for all this is because Little Turkey and Turkey creeks being listed on the state’s 303d list.”

According to the ordinance’s language, the ordinance is being designed to bring Farragut streams into compliance with standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which will set a buffer or easement on each side of first-, second- and third-order streams in hopes of reducing siltration and E-Coli [bacteria], which is found in Farragut streams and thus removing the Farragut water features from the state’s 303d list.

Jones said there are “two major causes: point source discharge – failed silt fencing, retention and detention ponds going into the storm water system, and sheet flow, which is basically flow going across the grass into the streams.

“The approach Farragut has taken is principally to look at what others are doing. In other words, the larger communities have funded actual engineering studies to basically determine the source of the problem. We’ve tried to only look at what other communities have done and we haven’t done any real engineering studies on our own. So, what we have arrived at is based on what other communities are doing.”

Jones added that Knoxville is requiring about a third of what Farragut is requiring on buffer width … Knox County is requiring about half or less … .

“We’re talking about a significant amount of property being impacted across the town of Farragut,” Jones said. “We have about twenty miles of streams in the town of Farragut – ten miles for first-order, five each for second- and third-order streams. When you do the math, that comes out about 426 acres or about $23 million in property value if you say you are going to use that full width for the ordinance.

“Maybe the reasonable approach should be about 25 feet, which we pretty much already have” with the town’s erosion control ordinances. “I think what we’re proposing is excessive.”

Jones has recommended to the Aquatic Buffer Ordinance committee and to the FMPC that each parcel owner be notified by mail of the impact the Aquatic Buffer Ordinance could have on their property.

The commission and FMPC have both invited the public to participate in the open meetings concerning the ordinance.


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