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Belleaire resident voices opposition to First Baptist, Concord plans

Citizens’ Forum was the avenue one Belleaire Subdiv-ision resident used to express her opposition to “the current Master Plan of First Baptist Church in its effort to close Belleaire Drive and relocate it to accommodate their growth plan.”

The quote was from a letter co-written by Lamar and Margaret Orr and handed out to Farragut Municipal Planning Commission members during its Citizens’ Forum to begin its monthly meeting, Thursday, Aug. 16, in Town Hall.

The dispute involves the church’s $37.5 million expansion plan.

Jennifer Lasater, director of guest and member services for the roughly 8,000-member church, was quoted in a June 21 farragutpress story as saying the church and Town had been “working closely” on the possible re-routing of Belleaire Drive and “the entire project.”

Margaret Orr addressed Commission and audience members at the “walk-up” podium for about a minute, saying she was “speaking for myself, and I’m also speaking for almost all of the residents of Belleaire Subdivision.

“We want to be on record that we oppose any and all plans of First Baptist Concord to close Belleaire Drive and relocate it in order to build 1,200 parking spaces and athletic fields on the east side of Belleaire Drive,” she added before distributing the letter.

The letter, Margaret Orr said, was originally written for, and sent to, Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III, addressed Aug. 13.

The church’s plan to relocate Belleaire Drive, the Orrs claim in the letter, “Would provide for four road cuts onto Kingston Pike in approximately 800 feet — old Belleaire into church parking, new Belleaire for residents of Belleaire Subdivision, Shiloh entrance and the entrance into Derby Chase and Glen Abbey. …”

Derby Chase and Shiloh properties “would be devalued not only by the proximity of the road but also by the lighted athletic fields. …,” the letter adds.

“First Baptist Concord has bought a considerable number of private residences in Belleaire Subdivision over a period of time,” the letter states in its second paragraph, adding the church has bought 15 homes on the east and west sides of Belleaire Drive.

Brian Pierce, an architect with Michael Brady, Inc., was quoted in an Aug. 2 farragutpress story that the church had looked at two road options. This came during a July 25 “town meeting” of residents and church officials in Town Hall.

Option 1 left Belleaire Drive intact, but gave the church 1,400 more parking spaces with only two curb cuts, Pierce said. These cuts would be spaced about 200-feet apart and empty traffic out onto Belleaire Drive.

Option 2 cuts off Belleaire Drive south of the church and reroutes it northeast to run close to Derby Chase and Shiloh subdivisions.

“The only traffic on that road would be Belleaire traffic,” Pierce said. “We would have a 50-foot buffer between the road and the subdivisions.”

Upon handing out copies of her letter to FMPC members, Margaret Orr said, “We would like each of you to consider carefully the items in the letter and other issues that will be brought up when this actually is on the [FMPC] agenda.”

Mayor Ford thanked Margaret Orr for her presentation, saying he would “add her letter to my growing file of letters from people in our community who have a position, or are developing a position, on what is to be an issue eventually to be presented to this Planning Commission.

“At this point we have not received any submission of First Baptist Church [Concord], so Margaret is ahead of the curve.”


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