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Review Board calls for new town staff overseer
Discussion mounts for town administrator assistant to oversee development process

If Farragut’s decision-makers agree with the committee charged to improve the development process, town staff could grow by at least one.

In its Aug. 8 meeting, the Development Review Process Evaluation Committee began to establish its list of recommendations for Mayor W. Edward Ford III, and ultimately the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

David Wooley was the first committee member to recommend hiring an additional staff member. That suggestion was seconded by additional committee members who used the following terms to describe such a person: “a point of accountability ... knowledgeable, experienced in planning and engineering functions ... an outstanding communicator ... an additional position of oversight ... liaison ... someone with a can-do attitude ... advocate.”

Robert Hill went a step further and suggested a project manager be appointed to each new development project. “I don’t always think that one person on the town staff needs to do that. … You might find some jewels in the rough …”

Fred Jones suggested that the town may also need to hire an additional town planner.

“I think [the staff] … is a hardworking group of people. I think their knowledge … is really good but I feel like they’re overloaded,” he said.

Bob Markli pointed out that he based his suggestions partly on the dozen or so conversations he had with various development professionals.

“What I find is that this town has a serious, and I want to emphasize serious, image problem,” he said. Later in the meeting, Markli continued: “We have an absolute public relations disaster . . . there’s an individual who has singlehandedly threatened the town’s image … that needs to be addressed.”

“I think it probably came up in the majority of the interviews we had,” Ron Honken said. “There is a staff member that has things that need to be worked on and they’re pretty serious. Although I agree that this new position probably needs to be put in place over planning and engineering, my experience has been that never can you solve a problem by insulating somebody from the public.”

Honken concluded his suggestions with: “There’s a great deal of reservation that this group will actually achieve anything. … There are changes that need to take place, because if they don’t, I don’t think the development community is going to give the town of Farragut a second chance.”

The committee meets at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, to vote on a list of recommendations.


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