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No place for ‘irrational pessimism’, Important day for Farragut, Who rules Anytown, USA?, Reader response

No place for ‘irrational pessimism’

The real estate bubble has burst.

We’re in for a long hard ride in the real estate market.

The credit crunch has destroyed real estate values.

These are some of the phrases you’ve heard over the past couple of months. And, they are true for certain pockets of the country, not for East Tennessee.

It is important for East Tennesseans to understand that real estate is local. We’ve seen a steady appreciation in our area at around 6 percent for the past 10 years.

Areas of Florida, California and Nevada have seen huge home inventory levels and are starting to see prices drop. Real estate was appreciating in these areas by 25-50 percent annually for the past 3 to 5 years. Common sense says this can’t continue and anyone who is thinking rationally knows that. As for comparison, in 2006 the median household income to median home value in California was $65k/$548k compared to the Knoxville area of $49k/$151k.

However, it is true that houses in the Knoxville market are taking longer to sell than in the past.

This is primarily due to the national media being “irrationally pessimistic.” The national media loves to make news and all of us know that bad news is good business. They will continue to sing the doom-and-gloom song as long as real estate in Florida and California are suffering.

When wages are good and jobs are plentiful it’s only a matter of time before the local real estate market starts to gain steam. We have new businesses moving to the area and many people are choosing to retire here. The local job market is so tight that business owners are having trouble finding good talent.

John Sharpe, president of ARG Financial Staffing in Knoxville says, “The job market in this area is the strongest it’s been in years and there’s a strong hiring forecast for the next two quarters.”

For those of us in beautiful East Tennessee, there are deals to be had.

Matt Padgett


Keystone Mortgage Group

Important day for Farragut

If recent comments in presstalk are any indication, there are some in Farragut who don’t completely understand the “Impact Fee” issue and thus the importance of the recent vote.

Sept. 27 was an important day for Farragut. It was a day of decision for the town in that its fundamental philosophies, its history and its traditions (the ones that have made it a shining beacon in East Tennessee and the envy of similar communities around the country) were challenged by the proponents of authoritarian government, higher taxes, curtailed property rights and bureaucratic roadblocks to progress. Fortunately for the citizens of Farragut, its elected mayor, vice mayor and Alderwoman Dorothy LaMarche stood tall for the citizens who elected them and for the principles on which our town was founded. In a larger sense, it was vindication of the founding principles of this great nation because the wisdom of the people was evident in resisting the encroaching expansion of governmental intrusion into their lives.

I am talking about “impact fees;” noxious, predatory, discriminatory, opportunistic taxes enacted by communities seeking to stifle and penalize development. I say noxious because they are a sneaky, backhanded way of taking money out of the pockets of the citizenry and particularly any new or prospective resident of the town.

All the high-sounding rhetoric surrounding the supposed fairness of the “impact fee” solution to a problem which has not been demonstrated to exist quickly fades under the light of even cursory investigation. It is discriminatory in that it singles out only a certain segment of our citizenry. Impact fees have become a popular ploy favored by politicians seeking to expand their power because it is a concealed tax that very few of the voting public recognize for what it is. Because it is paid directly by those few men and women of vision, courage and tenacity who take the risks and endure the vagaries of the economy to furnish us with all the amenities and services that we take for granted, the aspiring politico risks little political repercussion. And since the development community is so small, it is easily marginalized and even demonized … because axiomatically, “the only thing the public hates worse than sprawl is density,” right?

But once the ordinance is enacted, who really pays? The developer is in business to make money. He will not curtail his profits for the privilege of building in one area over another. If his profitability is impacted, he will simply take his project elsewhere. If he feels his project is still viable because the market will bear the added cost of an impact fee, he simply adds it to the cost of his project and passes it on to the customer. In the case of a new home that customer is you, the voter, who is being asked to add $3,670 to your mortgage and pay for it for the next 30 years without being able to even deduct it from your income taxes! What’s worse, you have been discriminated against without even knowing it. None of your neighbors paid it, yet they enjoy all the same goods and services that you do. What’s fair about that?!

And if it is a business, like say for instance the new Ingle’s store proposed on the site of the old theater, who will pay the approximately $200,000 penalty Mr. Ingle faces for seeking to bring a nice, more modern and convenient store to our community? Well, Mr. Ingle isn’t in the business of trucking groceries into town for his own amusement. It will be passed on to us, the voting public in the form of a higher cost of goods and services. The usurping politician’s fond hope is that the gullible citizen will never realize it because he has been sold the famous old lie, “Make the developer pay if he wants to come to town and make money here.”

The proponents of such a farce should be ashamed for trying to fool the people who elected them so they can pick their pockets while appearing to be doing them a favor. Mr. Rosseel even had the audacity to state in the public meeting Sept. 27 that “This is not a tax. It’s a fee,” a statement that was rightly met with uproarious laughter from the assembled citizenry who packed the meeting hall to capacity to hear the ordinance and witness the vote.

It should be noted that after Mayor [W. Edward “Eddy”] Ford, Vice Mayor [Michael] Haynes and Alderwoman LaMarche had all made eloquent and fervent pleas for the rejection of the impact fee ordinance citing the great success the town has had in providing superior services for the town over its 27-year history by adhering to the town’s founding principles of fiscal responsibility and no additional taxes, and essentially providing incontrovertible evidence that such a fee is neither warranted nor desirable, Aldermen [Thomas] Rosseel and [John] Williams, newcomers to the board who can perhaps be excused for their lack of sensitivity to the tradition and success of the town due to their own lack of experience in town government, made pleas in support of the ordinance citing no credible sources and relying entirely on fallacious assumptions and outright deception, the height of which was evident when Mr. Rosseel even went so far as to quote successful local builder/developer and past president of the Home Builders’ Association of Greater Knoxville Mike Stevens, as having said that impact fees do not negatively affect home sales (a statement ludicrous in and of itself!). This was shown to be completely false when Mr. Stevens, notified that his name was being bandied about in support of something he vigorously opposes, showed up unexpectedly a couple of hours into the meeting to clarify that this assertion of Mr. Rosseel was utterly false and that Stevens had never said anything of the kind.

The speeches of the Mayor and Aldermen completed, the microphone was given to the public to address the issue. It is to the credit of the perspicacity of the citizenry of the Town of Farragut that the more than one-and-a-half hours of citizen commentary that followed in the open forum contained not one single shred of support for the scheme, but rather provided testimony after testimony of the folly of such a measure and of the damage it would cause the town and its citizens. Cogent reasoning was provided by many of the town’s leading citizens including an impassioned plea from the town’s first mayor, Bob Leonard, who sat down amid a standing ovation that as far as this observer could tell was joined by the entire audience. This was a well publicized public meeting on an issue of vital concern for the town. Where were the supporters of this tax scheme? If there were any, they didn’t bother (or perhaps were ashamed) to take the


After this, the vote was held and it was with amazement that I witnessed one of the most amazing displays of either complete obstinacy or utter audacity and complete disregard for the wishes of their constituency when Messrs. Rosseel and Williams still voted in favor of this insidious tax scheme in the face of overwhelming public rejection. Once again, the respect of a grateful citizenry should go to Mayor Ford, Vice Mayor Haynes and Alderwoman LaMarche for doing their homework and keeping faith with their constituents by defeating this measure. I hope we will all remember this vote when it becomes our turn again to vote for those who will represent us at the Town level. In the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

Lastly, we all hate to see pristine farm land paved over into subdivisions and commercial developments. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop us from buying our own homes or patronizing those business establishments, so let’s drop the pretense of conservationism and stop trying to tell our neighbors what they can and cannot do with the land they have bought and paid for. If we want to complain, then let’s put our money where our mouth is and buy up that remaining land and run a farm or make it into a nature preserve or whatever benign use we prefer for it. That is our right as citizens, not penalizing our neighbors because they have a different vision.

Bob Markli

Town resident since 1988

Who rules Anytown, USA?

If we can, let’s simplify things a bit and look from a different perspective at an issue also at hand and presently on the minds of many people in the Farragut and surrounding areas.

There is an entity, any entity, in Anytown, USA. This entity has the financial resources and in some fashion the ability to convince a portion of property owners in a residential neighborhood to sell their homes and property to the entity.

The non-residential intended use of these purchased homes and property is being decided upon by members of the entity that while they will use the facilities, will not have to deal with the day-to-day inconveniences that are certain to occur — increase in traffic, noise, night time bright lighting, etc. When these people finish using these facilities and leave what was ONCE a nice, quiet residential neighborhood, they will get to

go home to their own quiet


Should this entity in Anytown, USA, be permitted to use the homes and property they purchased for anything other than what the area was originally intended and zoned; a residential neighborhood? Especially since the intended use is against the wishes of a major portion of the remaining families of the neighborhood, and a large number of residents in surrounding areas who also will be affected. Families want the area to remain a quiet residential neighborhood, as it was when they originally built or purchased their homes.

Just because this entity has financial and other resources at their disposal to forever change a large portion of a residential neighborhood, should they be allowed to? Is this right?

If the answer is yes, then which quiet neighborhood in Anytown, USA, will be next? Yours?

Robert Brykalski

Concord/Farragut Resident since 1978

Reader response

In response to the letter from Steve and Julie Arnold.

First I would like to say, I am not “trying to tear down the church and destroy it’s ministries.” Why would I want to? The FBC has been an important part of the Concord/Farragut area for many years, and will continue to be so. There are many many wonderful people who belong to the FBC, and the FBC is an important part of their lives.

I have no animosity towards the FBC, now or ever. What I do have is a real concern with is that this “master expansion plan” proposed by the administration of the FBC will have serious negative impacts on the 5 communities (and the families who reside there) adjacent to the church property.

When the Arnolds said: “.. FBC has done everything within reason to alleviate or minimize the community’s concerns about its building program ...” I have to disagree. We have trust issues based on previous history with the administration of the FBC. So when a representative of the FBC speaks at the MPC or at the town hall meeting, we are very wary. Especially when the one representative did not appear to be well informed about ongoing problems and concerns.

Yes, the FBC was there before we moved into Belleaire. However, if you ask anyone who lives in Belleaire that when that bought their homes if they ever thought there would come a time that a church would want to tear down 20 percent of this community’s homes and replace them with asphalt parking lots, athletic fields, and commercial style buildings, I would say their answers would be a resounding “NO!”

The Arnolds also stated “... Mrs. Brykalski seems to think that her allegations should be considered fact simply because she has spoken them.” If that was so, why would I have put in my letter ... “if you belong to the FBC, ASK QUESTIONS, DEMAND ANSWERS... .” And why would I suggest that readers look up archives from the Press Enterprise, the News Sentinel, and the local TV stations?

Also, I was at the MPC meeting, Chairman Bob Hill VOLUNTEERED that he lives in Belleaire, but also stated that first and foremost as a member of the MPC he would adhere to the rules and regulations of the MPC. If you feel he should be recused because of a perceived bias, then anyone on the MPC or the Town Board who belongs to the FBC should be recused for the same reason. Fair is Fair. Also, the MPC did NOT deny the plans for the STUDENT CENTER, which was the only part of the Master Plan presented that night, the MPC merely asked for more information and detailed plans that included additional phases of the “master expansion plan.” This was not only out of respect for the citizens of Farragut who will be impacted by the Master Plan, but out of respect for the FBC’s growth plans and related financial interests in those growth plans. The FBC representatives agreed to that and said they would have more complete plans for the December MPC meeting. However, the FBC changed it’s mind, and has resubmitted only the Student Center with the mandated changes the MPC required for the Oct. 18 meeting. It will more than likely be approved.

In my previous letter I made reference to the Sept. 30 sermon, and the (in my opinion) to the over emphasis on asking for money from the congregation. The Arnolds state in their letter ... “he (Doug Sager) was actually challenging the church to show its commitment to God’s work through supporting the ministry financially.” I do believe if you belong to a church you do need to support it, but it doesn’t always have to be with dollars, and when millions of dollars is what is being asked for, that is a little scary. Not everyone can afford to tithe every week or month and still put food on the table and pay their electric bill (I have had friends in this position.) And just because a church is in Farragut does not mean its members have more money than they can count. Also, I have to admit, as I listened to the sermon, I kept hearing in the back of my mind “$37.5 million dollar expansion.”

The Arnold’s also stated, “In other words, put your money where your mouth is.” I actually have no idea what they meant by that. But if they mean, have my husband and I contributed to help pay for the attorney that our communities hired to help us protect our families, our homes, and our communities.... YES we have. We also do volunteer work through the East Tennessee Victims Rights Task Force, and used to volunteer with Collie Concern Collie Rescue (I really miss doing that!). So, as I am not sure what the question really is, I hope that answers it.

After I read your letter, I went back and re-read the letter I wrote the previous edition of the Farragut Press Enterprise. In my letter I took direct quotes from the sermon that was online 9/30/07. I also spoke not only from my perspective, but from that of many residents of Belleaire and surrounding communities. Ideas, comments, and concerns that they have addressed to me and others, on various occasions.

The fact that the FBC has over 8000 members on its roster but only 2000 plus regularly attend services is, in my opinion, sad. I have to wonder if part of the $37.5 million dollars earmarked for the “master plan expansion” couldn’t be better used in some way to get more of the existing members involved with and in the church on a more regular basis. How, I’m not sure, but it is something to think about.

I understand and respect that some parents want their children in a private Christian school. Public schools can be downright scary anymore. But if you are not teaching and living the right values at home, school will only have a small impact on how a child views the world and themselves.

But I still cannot find a way to justify or understand destroying a community, alienating the families in it and the surrounding area for parking lots and ball fields.

I know the FBC has put a lot of time, effort, and money into the plans for the “master plan expansion” they have made, but there comes a time when the administrations needs to ask themselves “Why are we really doing this? Why are so many people SO upset and fighting this so hard? Is there another way, a better way?

And lastly, a “point to ponder”. Perhaps if the FBC had contacted the families of Belleaire, Shiloh, Farragut Crossing, Derby Chase, and Glenn Abbey BEFORE they began putting hard plans on paper, before they began paying engineers, architects, and attorneys, if the FBC had ASKED for ideas, input, concerns, or advice from their neighbors, instead of the way everything has been handled thus far, just maybe none of these letters would have ever been written.

Let’s all try to step back and think how you would feel if it was your family, your home, and your community that was feeling “threatened” by a large multi-million dollar entity? If this was a multi-plex retail store, or a manufacturing facility, or a liquor or tobacco warehouse, instead of a church, what would your reaction be?

Thank You,

Jeanne Brykalski


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