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Former Farragut Mayor Leonard quizzes FMPC

The “elasticity” of town ordinances was the topic of discussion as Former Farragut Mayor Robert Leonard raised questions at the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, Aug. 18, at Town Hall.

Before the Commission unanimously voted 8-0 – Commissioner Stephen Hildebrand was absent – to postpone a preliminary plat for the Chapel Grove subdivision, Leonard raised questions, representing Pinnacle Management Company, Inc., on “subject tos” listed in a letter from town staff to Pinnacle Management Company dated Aug. 17.

In accordance with the zoning ordinance, item nine in the letter stated: “Retaining wall must be setback 10 feet from all property lines.”

Leonard asked the Commission to allow a variance from this ordinance as site plans were to keep two walls set up as terraces already established on the property as retaining walls.

Leonard said, “Our engineers and architects decided to cherish the front yard using retaining walls. It would be easier to mow, easier to keep, easier to plan … and since they are affecting a whole block of units, we didn’t see why that would have to be set ten feet back.

“Some of our ordinances are written so they don’t give you enough room to do what a builder and architect would believe ought to be done and that would make a better development than what we have.”

Town development director Ruth Hawk said, “Part of the reason for this requirement, if you remember, this section of the zoning ordinance is not that old regarding retaining walls; if you recall, part of the discussion was that the setback requirement is so that the retaining walls are located outside of the facility drainage and construction easements. … but we are very much aware that if a retaining wall is in existence and a utility or something comes in or there is some type of repair work that has to be done in the vicinity, retaining wall construction can be very expensive, and I don’t think anybody wants to see a retaining wall being removed and it not being replaced and left to the individual property owner to have to put it back.”

FMPC Chairman Robert Hill asked, “What would our option be to allow this? Would it be necessary to change the ordinance?”

Hawk confirmed that the ordinance would need to be changed.

Leonard said, “We certainly will take it up with Mr. [Thomas] Hale. We have occasionally gotten relief from our lawyer where we couldn’t get it from staff … If it doesn’t apply, then I think that what we need is the cooperation of staff in drafting an ordinance, very quickly, that will give us relief along these lines. …”

Leonard also asked the Commission to allow a variance on a buffer zoning ordinance that says residential lots must have a 25-foot buffer when the lots are next to a residential area.

Leonard requested the variance to allow for drainage piping to Wyndam Hall, even though Wyndam Hall resident David Butson said he thought the piping was unnecessary.

Hill said his problem is not knowing how much the Commission can “do what we want” if the ordinance says you cannot.

The Commission agreed to have Hale look over the text to this ordinance as well.

In a discussion on the site plan for Parkside Plaza III on Parkside Drive, Hawk commended applicant Annette Hommel for town staff only having two comments on the proposed plan.

In other FMPC business, the Commission:

• Unanimously agreed to relocate the McFee Road gas line.

• Unanimously agreed to rezone 11235 West Point Drive, parcel 5, tax map 143HE, 1.13 acres, from C-1 to O-1.

• Unanimously approved a site plan for a building addition to the M & M Development Office, 11235 West Point Drive, parcel 5, tax map 143 HE, located behind the Taco Bell, zoned C-1, 1.13 acres.


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