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FBC pleads case at FBMA Open Forum


First Baptist Church Concord appeared in force before the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen requesting fair treatment concerning a $37.5 million expansion plan during procedings at the Board’s meeting Thursday, Oct. 11, at Town Hall.

Attorney John King, representing FBC, said, “The [Farragut Municipal] Planning Commission has on its agenda for Thursday, Oct. 18 [First Baptist’s] site-plan for action that is related to the proposed [construction] of a student building on church property on the west side of Belleaire Drive.

“I simply want to advise and remind this body that the church has occupied and utilized property at its current location since the 1960s. Obviously the church has grown over the years. I think it is safe to say that the growth is directly related to the church’s commitment and service to its members and to the community at large.”

King added that the church offers a number of activities and community services to members and non-members alike.

“Our site plan, in accordance with your ordinances, was before the planning commission in September. At that time the Planning Commission and town engineer [Darryl Smith] reported the results of their evaluation of our proposal and advised that the application met all the requirements of the ordinance and, accordingly, they recommended approval,” King said.

“At that meeting, despite the findings and recommendations of the staff, [FMPC] postponed action on our application contingent upon a submission of what was described as our ‘Master Plan,’ to include plans for possible future development of other property owned by the church, but not part of this particular tract on which the student building is located,” King added.

“The submitted site-plan, we respectfully suggest, is fully and completely in conformity with the zoning ordinance and there are no requirements for submission of plans for possible future developments of other properties owned by the applicants. There is no described procedure or established criteria for evaluation of such a requested master plan.”

King assured the Board that he wanted them to feel comfortable as the church moves forward with its plans and that if the mayor or any of his constituents had questions they could contact him and he would find the answers to whatever questions they may have.

Bill Davis, a Farragut resident, supported the FMPCs request for a master plan.

“For a planning board to effectively consider development plans from any organization it must be provided enough information to understand the overall long-term plans and how they will be implemented. Without that it is impossible for them to make an informed decision on the end results and the impact on its citizens. That is why I supported the effort of the [FMPC] to obtain full disclosure of F-B-C’s master plans,” Davis said.

Davis also was concerned that the members of FBC had not received full disclosure of the church’s plan.

“Every contributor needs to ask and understand how their resources will be applied. For that reason I have been surprised that F-B-C members would not also want to see an official master plan showing where they are headed

long-term,” he said.

“In my estimation, a better approach would be for F-B-C to establish a full, long-term plan of what they really want to do and make that same plan available to its members, who will be expected to pay for it, to the members of the community surrounding F-B-C and to the town of Farragut,” Davis added.

“Until that is done, it is unreasonable to expect the town of Farragut to approve it on a piecemeal basis, the surrounding communities to blindly embrace it, [or] the members of F-B-C to commit to pay for it.”

Doug Dutton, who described himself as an interested member of FBC, said he thought the actions of the FMPC were

political.

“We were treated rudely by the M-P-C and I am here to ask that we receive a fair and objective hearing by the M-P-C and it not be a political forum,” he added.

Mary Mulworth, an FBC member, said she was disturbed by the insistence on knowing what the church is going to want to do 20 years from now and also by the people who are so upset with the church that they want them to leave.

“Do they think that the church is able to walk away from [more than] $20 million in property and leave it empty? Don’t they realize we would sell it to another church and they would still have a church there?” Mulworth said.

Members of FBC vowed to be present for the FMPC meeting and Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said he would work with members of the Board to get FBC moved up on the agenda in order to get the situation resolved in a timely manner.

 

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