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Committee drafts two Aquatic Buffer Zone ordinances
FMPC to consider at future meeting

Members of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission will have two drafts of the Aquatic Buffer Zone Ordinance to consider at its June 16 meeting.

Meeting Tuesday afternoon June 7, members of the ABZO committee decided to propose two stand-alone drafts of the ordinance for Commission to consider, Stephen Hildebrand, committee chairman, said.

“One version of the drafts will have buffers set at twenty-five feet and the other will have a range of distances,” Hildebrand said during the meeting.

“The ordinance drafts will virtually contain the same language,” Ruth Hawk, Farragut community development director, said. “The only difference will be the distances set for the buffers.”

The ordinance issue was prompted by requirements mandated federally by The Clean Water Act of 1977, which required some municipalities to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits in order to operate a small municipal separate storm sewer system. Part of the permit process mandates establishing procedures for controlling sediment and bacterial pollutants, both of which are found in some or all Farragut streams.

Farragut currently is developing a Storm Water Ordinance. When adopted, the existing 25-foot buffer requirement will go away as a result of the erosion and the drainage ordinances being rescinded. Therefore, Farragut will need to develop an Aquatic Buffer Ordinance, or incorporate aquatic buffers in the Storm Water Ordinance to meet requirements.

The committee, comprised of Hildebrand, Hawk, FMPC Commissioner Fred Jones, FMPC Commissioner Holly Kelly, town staff’s Shari Cox and Fox Run subdivision resident Michael Ryon, met for what was termed the “final time” to weigh input gathered at FMPC workshops and at a special Aquatic Buffer Zone workshop held at Farragut Town Hall May 25 in order to produce the final ordinance draft.

It was determined that one member of the committee, Jones, owned property that would be affected financially by buffers. Hildebrand has property that borders a water feature. Other members of the committee live in subdivisions that have water features within the subdivision boundaries but not on property deeded by the member, or have no water features.

In a report to be presented to FMPC, Hildebrand said regarding the committee’s approach to its recommendation, “Our working group met eight times. We interviewed experts who have experience with aquatic buffers from Knoxville, Knox County, Brentwood and Franklin. We reviewed existing or proposed aquatic buffer ordinances from Knoxville, Knox County, Bradley County, Williamson County and Franklin.

“We reviewed information on aquatic buffers from the Tennessee [municipal storm sewer system] working group, which developed a Water Quality Buffer Zone Policy. … The approach was to propose a buffer judged to be most effective in helping address water quality issues and permit requirements. … This report presents our findings and recommendations for implementing aquatic buffers in the town of Farragut.”

Recommendations for the actual buffer ranged from a flat 25-foot buffer to a flat 60-foot buffer to a buffer range from 15 to 75 foot depending on stream classification.

Hildebrand said, “Our working group could not come to consensus on a recommendation. Two members [Jones and Kelly] believe our existing twenty-five foot aquatic buffer is sufficient. Four members believe twenty-five feet is not sufficient to provide adequate protection for existing and future pressures on town of Farragut streams. We thus put forward two alternatives for the Commission to consider: the current twenty-five-foot buffer embedded in the new Storm Water Management Ordinance, and a stand-alone Aquatic Buffer Ordinance that requires a thirty-five foot buffer for first- and second-order streams, and a sixty-foot buffer for third-order streams.”

The language also recommends exempting existing single-family residential lots from both alternatives. Complete copies of the proposed ordinance recommendations will be made available to the public via the town of Farragut Web site:

While several residents, it was noted, “provided positive input, encouraging the town to do all that is possible to protect natural resources in Farragut, the bulk of the feedback garnered at the public meetings was negative toward the initial proposed 50 to 100 foot buffer.

The report cites the most frequently noted comments as:

• Proposed buffer widths of 50 to 100 feet constitutes a “take away” and severely impacts value and development potential of some parcels.

• The real cause of sedimentation in Farragut streams is the failure of existing engineered requirements related to construction in Farragut and sediment input upstream from Farragut boundaries.

• Severe flooding is a problem in Farragut.

• Owners of existing homes are concerned about limitations on accessory structures.

• Engineering solutions to justify a variance from buffers are expensive.

• Farragut should put more effort into enforcement of existing ordinances regarding storm-water management.

• There are instances of raw sewage from First Utility District entering Farragut streams.

• Buffers should only apply to streams that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation classify as streams.

• Confusion exists over whether or not Farragut currently has a 25-foot aquatic buffer requirement.

• Studies are not available to identify the different sources of sediment to Farragut streams and the relative contribution of each.

• There are concerns about maintenance requirements and the prohibition of mechanical means to maintain vegetation within a buffer.

• Individuals feel that some watercourses on their property are not streams and should not need buffers.


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