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Citizens offer LCUB response

With the promise of many fewer power outages, as the new Lenoir City Utilities Board substation off Watt Road becomes operational next year, comes dread of poor aesthetics and intrusion.

These concerns were expressed during the monthly Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, Sept. 20, in Farragut Town Hall.

Curt Diedrick, East Ashton Court in Andover Subdivision, was one of two Andover households represented where the utility right-of-way exists and lines/poles will run. He was joined by wife, Jeanne, and Laurette Moran, Andover Boulevard, to voice concerns with the LCUB plan.

“This town has been constantly aware of signage issues and aesthetics, and it seems like this power line has been railroaded through without a lot of comments that are in opposition,” Curt Diedrick said, “and especially with the galvanized poles, they’re going right through our subdivision and right across the main road to the swimming pool, quite close to the swimming pool.

Commission chairman Robert “Bob” Hill said, “I agree with you on the galvanized posts, I’d like to have earth tone posts.”

However, “These things you bring up, you have to bring up with the L-C-U-B board, because we’re powerless to do anything about it other than offer a little input, and Ruth [Hawk, Farragut Community Development Director] has done that on the poles. … These lines are out of the jurisdiction of town ordinance.”

An emotional Jeanne Diedrick asked LCUB design engineer Mitch Ledbetter for a construction start date. “I assume probably around the last week of October, first of November, construction would begin. … Of course weather permitting and then what happens this winter, we’ll do what we can this winter,” he said.

“We need to have this line operational by next summer, this will insure that we are able to maintain the system demand in the near future, with Parkside Drive and all the development in the area,” Ledbetter added.

“T-V-A is going to build a transmission line up to the Watt Road area, therefore we have a main source into the whole West Knoxville area. It will not only be Farragut, it will be Northshore … Hardin Valley, it’s part of the major loop system. With T-V-A building a substation for us at Watt Road, this will be the main feed into the West Knoxville area.”

Ledbetter said that while galvanized steel poles have already been bought and ordered, LCUB does use “weather steel, brown, rusty” poles. “But the problem with them is they stain … you have a more unsightly pole that you would with wood or galvanized steel. … You’ve got a rusty pole, it actually does rust.

“And a galvanized steel pole is still the most cost efficient, the longest-lasting pole, has a life of over 50 years.”

Jeanne Diedrick asked how many residential areas have transmission lines going through, adding “transmission lines are usually routed around residential areas and not going through them.”

The LCUB official said he’s “probably met with 75 to 80 residents that were directly affected by this transmission line,” adding that any resident complaints during construction should be directed his way.

Hill said the utility right-of-ways existed “before there were ever any residential areas, I believe. They’ve got squatters’ rights on that.”

Moran asked Ledbetter, “What kind of medical studies have been done regarding power lines and how they affect people in terms of radiation or in terms of their affect on the human body?”

Ledbetter said, “there have been studies nationwide, country-wide, world-wide, and there has been no conclusive evidence that [electro-magnetic fields] causes cancer or causes any kind of harm to the body. ...”

Moran asked if burying lines underground wouldn’t be cheaper, citing “studies” in other states where underground lines were less expensive.

Ledbetter responded, “The line that we’re building now is approximately $1.7 million. The cost to put it underground, the total 3.6 miles, is over $27 million by the time you figure in labor, boring, all the materials. Actually, the right-of-way we’re on, doesn’t belong to L-C-U-B, it belongs to T-V-A. We have an agreement with T-V-A to use that easement.”

Hill added, “I even asked them [LCUB] to work up a cost estimate and see what the town of Farragut would have to pay if they wanted underground lines. Nobody ever did it. But I’m not disappointed, I didn’t expect them to do it. They’re a utility.”

With lines running through town walking trails, Hawk said L-C-U-B would fix any and all damage to the trails.

Jeanne Diedrick asked what LCUB would do should damage occur to private “driveways, sprinkler systems or whatever has been damaged?”

Ledbetter said, “It’s in the contract that ruts or damage that is done to your yard [will] be fixed to all satisfaction. … Do whatever is necessary to make us happy,” adding that includes working in “non-residential areas” during rainy or snowy conditions where equipment could do yard damage.

Picking up on Ledbetter’s “necessary to make us happy” quote, Hill added, “If you’re satisfied but they’re not, then everybody loses.”

After construction, Ledbetter said the residential areas will “go back basically to the way it was a year ago, two years ago.”

Jeanne Diedrick added, “These poles are going right in our yard, and we did bring up the aesthetics [and] value of our property [which] is going to go down. We brought up long ago that if there was any way of having the brown poles or green poles or whatever, it would definitely be better for the neighborhood.

“We’ve totally been ignored.”

Hill said, “The industry has totally ignored people, it’s just done what it wants to do.”

Moran added, “It just seems like our voice has fallen on deaf ears the whole time.”

Ledbetter advised that LCUB meets every third Monday of the month. Hill advised that Farragut now has board representation at LCUB, Joel Garber, former town of Farragut alderman.

Hawk added that state law requires a utility “go before a planning commission for review and approval. The planning commission then takes action. If the planning commission were to deny this, for example, tonight for some reason, the Lenoir City Utility Board could override the denial, with approval from a majority of their membership.”

Construction work will be broken up into three sections, Ledbetter said: “from Watt Road to about Saddleridge, it’s not highly developed residential-wise. The next section is from Saddleridge to about Everett Road, and the last section is Everett Road to Farragut sub-station.”

Ledbetter assured that power would not be turned off at any point during construction.

From the current substation in Farragut Commons, “That signal line from the Farragut substation northward, east, has been redone, and basically we’re going to carry that southward to our new substation at Watt Road,” Ledbetter said.

Poles will be placed, “on average, 240, 250, 260 feet apart,” Hawk said.

The new line will extend into existing utility right-of-ways “on the same pole line,” Ledbetter said. As with the current line, Ledbetter said the new transmission line would be 69 kilovolt.

In other business, the town unanimously approved, subject to compliance with town staff recommendations:

• a resubdivision of parcels 67.01, 67.02, 67.03, 68.02, 68.03 and 69 … Ingles/Farragut Towne Square, 84.704 acres, zoned C-1, B-1, R-1, R-2, located on the north side of Kingston Pike between Boring and Smith Road, and variance requests to not construct a sidewalk on Boring Road and to not reserve the 10 percent open space (Larry Bulliner/Urban Engineering, Inc./applicant)

• a site plan for the FLP Shops, 600 N. Campbell Station Road, located on the northeast corner of N. Campbell Station Road and Parkside Drive, zoned C-2, 4.55 acres (Farragut Land Partners, LLC, applicant)

• a site plan for First Citizens Bank, 100 S. Campbell Station Road, parcel 1337.10, tax map 142, zoned C-1, 1.03 acres, formerly known as the Nationwide Building (First Citizens Bank, applicant)

• a site plan for Concord Square, located at 11000 Kingston Pike, located on the south side of Kingston Pike behind Pittsburgh Paints, zoned C-1, 2.49 acres (Eric Nelson, applicant)

• a request to amend Farragut Zoning Ordinance, chapter 2, definitions, lot coverage, to add ponds as an exception (Robert Skinner, applicant)

With Ford recusing himself due to having property involved, Commission otherwise voted unanimously to amend Farragut Zoning Ordinance 0732 and 0731 to create mixed use zoning district to allow for commercial, retail, office and residential within the same district, and to amend Farragut Municipal Code to supplement the requirements of new mixed zoning district (Southern Home Developers, Inc., applicant).

A site plan for the eventual reopening of Ott’s Barbeque, 12828 Kingston Pike, involved “new construction” issues to a “non-conforming building.” Knick Myers of Myers Bros.

Holding was advised that, because of “new construction” to the building’s areas designated “wood storage” and “office” on blueprints (“office” was formerly a carport that will be enclosed), he would have to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals for review then resubmit a site plan for those areas to FMPC. Otherwise, work could continue on other portions of the building, Hill said.

Myers and FMPC agreed to comply with staff recommendations, including a few disregarded, which the Commission unanimously approved.


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