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TCD zoning ordinance nears

Several members of the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission met with Town staff and builder Michael Bates to discuss the construction of a Town Center District ordinance Friday morning, Aug. 3.

The ordinance would allow the creation of a mixed-use district on property next to Town Hall.

Bates has indicated he is in negotiations to purchase property at 11500 and 11524 Kingston Pike to develop into an official downtown area for Farragut.

The meeting picked up where an earlier May 17 meeting left off — parking in the zone — and proceeded to the general layout of the site.

Town Community Development Director Ruth Hawk reviewed a series of “downtown” development photographs from Maine, Wisconsin and Georgia she presented at the initial meeting for the benefit of Commission member Ed St. Clair, who, Hawk said, “had not seen them.”

The discussion moved to a proposed round-about in Bates’ plan and the elimination of curb cuts based on a 300-foot minimum for the area.

Hawk said that there was not necessarily an agreement between Town staff and Bates on the proposed requirement, which is item No. 28 in the proposed ordinance — To improve walkability, restrict/limit curb cuts (minimum 1/300 linear feet).

Bates said, “If we change to the 300-foot curb cut, we essentially have to get into redesigning the entire street scene — all the building pads, block pads, the town square. … We’re still not sure we see the benefit of having to have that 300-foot curb cut.”

Bates added that he had been in discussion with Hawk about having a more linear situation on the streetscape, having walk-throughs between the individual buildings.

“I think what we were trying to achieve is having adequate drive-through locations from the main street to the parking lot,” Bates said.

Hawk said that the staff was looking at other large parking lots in the Town, such as Gander Mountain, and access is 400- to 600-feet between curb cuts, which was plenty.

“They may need more pedestrian accesses, but vehicular-wise, you don’t need that many vehicular access points to the parking lot,” Hawk added.

Hill said, “… That’s the way old towns were built by blocks and there weren’t any curb cuts in the blocks.”

Hawk said that the idea was to create a pedestrian area where you didn’t have to constantly have to look to see if a car is coming.

The discussion turned to Bates’ basic plan that calls for a round-about at one end of the town center.

Hawk said that the round-about wouldn’t be needed as a traffic calming devise since the on-street parking would serve that purpose.

Bates said that the traffic circle was included so that something aesthetically pleasing could be installed and also serve as traffic calming.

Leisure Services director Sue Stuhl said that fewer streets would make the area more readily adaptable to street celebrations and other Town events.

FMPC chair Robert “Bob” Hill reminded the group that the ordinance was being drafted to accommodate others who might want to build in a similar zone and not just this proposed project.

The parking lot discussion focused on landscaping and pedestrian access to the retail areas from the parking areas.

Remarking on the residential aspect of the photo display, Hawk said, “[The builders] kind of forgot the back parking lot. This is what the residential units are looking at. There is not a lick of landscaping hardly back here. I can’t image how hot this asphalt must get in the summer and reflect onto those porches.”

Hawk said that the builders of the sites visited paid a lot of attention to the detail of the fronts of the buildings and not much to the rear where the residential dwellings were.

“This gives us something that we can improve on,” Hill said.

Commissioner Rita Holliday wanted to know if Hawk had information about occupancy of the residential sites.

Bates responded, saying that the units were “basically fully occupied.”

The meeting closed following a discussion of signage and a review of definitions.

Hill asked Hawk if a draft of the ordinance could be ready by the next FMPC meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Hawk said it would take more time for the draft.


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