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letters to the editor


Johnia Berry Memorial Toy Drive, No more on Impact Fee, Veterans Day story applauded, Setting the record straight, Part II

Johnia Berry Memorial Toy Drive

We are coming up on “that time of year.” The Holidays.

Most of us in the Farragut community have A LOT to be grateful for.

Mike and Joan Berry (Johnia Berry’s parents) have organized a toy drive for children in Knoxville who might not have a very Merry Christmas without the compassion and help from people like us.

Johnia’s murder was just recently solved. (She was murdered Dec. 3, 2004). I got to know her mom Joan very well through the East Tennessee Victims Rights Task Force. It is because of the efforts of “grass root organizations” like the ETVRTF, but mostly Johnia’s family and friends, that a DNA bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2008, for the State of Tennessee. Similar bills in other states have helped to solve many many violent crimes. Some of them very old and cold.

I hope many of you will take the time while out running your daily errands, or doing your Holiday shopping to pick something up for the Toy Drive. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Just something from the heart. The toys need to be at the drop off points by Dec. 5.

Thank you. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Jeanne Dotts Brykalski



No more on Impact Fee

I was very disappointed by the appearance of yet another epic tome by Mr. Markli in the Nov. 8 farragutpress. The first was plenty as I thought he did a good job (even though I disagree with his reasoning) of outlining why he opposed the proposed impact fee. He did take some pot shots at those who voted in favor of the measure and one of them, Alderman Tom Rosseel, was justifiably provided equal space for a rebuttal. However, I disagree with the farragutpress providing the opportunity for Mr. Markli, who, as a developer, has a vested financial interest in the impact fee issue, to yet again slam those in favor of this measure. The farragutpress should have ended this particular discussion with our elected official’s response. Instead, you now, out of fairness, owe Mr. Rosseel equal space for a rebuttal.

I certainly agree with Mr. Markli there is no point in continuing to debate a measure that fell short of approval. However, it is worth pointing out that while Mr. Markli delights in bashing the impact fee/tax he somehow doesn’t see anything wrong with the sales tax. This is a very unreliable way to finance a town especially with the continued impact of the Turkey Creek commercial district and the future impact of the planned mega commercial development in nearby Lenoir City. While I certainly hope we attract some large scale businesses to the little remaining developable land in Turkey Creek which just happens to reside within the town of Farragut (yet another reason why impact fee or no impact fee, businesses interested in this location will play by the Town’s rules), it is important for our Town’s officials to not stick their heads in the sand.

No one is disputing the town of Farragut is, as of today, in sound financial shape. However, one of the important assets of an elected official is the ability to look ahead and plan for the future instead of waiting for a crisis to occur and then reacting. The proposed impact fee was an effort to look ahead and whether one agrees or disagrees with it, those who promoted its debate should be applauded for their efforts to generate additional revenue for this town. Conversely, those who simply want to hang their hats on sales tax dollars will find that one day, this source will diminish. We’ll then see people writing letters to the farragutpress asking how come our elected officials didn’t proactively address this issue.

Jeff Elliott

Farragut



Veterans Day story applauded

I just want to send my thanks to [farragutpress writer] Adria [Amos] for a splendid article about Veterans Day and what it means to those of us who have served and our families.

We can only hope the rest of our fellow Americans appreciate the sacrifices being made by the men and women who are now serving and their families.

Joseph Mazzola



Setting the record straight, Part II

In Mr. Bob Markli’s most recent letter to the editor, he continues his histrionic comments, innuendos and misstatements. I welcome the opportunity, yet again, to set the record straight and I hope it’s for the last time.

Mr. Markli suggests that “determined forces are bent on forcing” impact fees upon the Town. In fact, impact fees were first placed on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s agenda in 2004, prior to my election and that of John Williams, due to citizen’s complaints concerning the perceived lack of fairness associated with cost-sharing arrangements between the Sheffield subdivision development and the Town for improvements along Turkey Creek Road.

In 2005, at the Board’s direction, the Town administrator and the Town attorney prepared a report recommending that, if the Board wished to pursue the issue, it consider hiring the leading US experts on impact fees, Duncan and Associates. Following an overview presentation to the Board, Duncan was hired in 2006 to prepare a study, present it to the Board, and to hold at least two public meetings. All of these meetings, as well as the two additional public meetings on April 16 and August 1, 2007, were reported by the farragutpress; hardly the makings of the sinister conspiracy suggested by Mr. Markli

What Mr. Markli apparently fails to comprehend is that the Town’s current requirements for collector road improvements depend upon: the type of residential zoning being developed and, if applicable, whether a cost-sharing arrangement can be negotiated (in an ad hoc fashion) with the Board. In other words, it’s not a level playing field and some don’t pay at all. It’s also not fair to the citizens of this Town, whose tax dollars are used to make up the difference - not exactly free enterprise.

Typically, the “first-in” residential developer pays more to meet the Town’s requirement that the subdivision has an adequate collector road for the homebuyer. The cost of those required improvements, whether through a negotiated or formula impact fee, are shared through a reduction in the price paid for the undeveloped land, an increase in the cost of the developed land, and an increase in the cost of the home but, according to the experts, much less than the maximum formula fee of $3,600 that was under

consideration

In fact, if we had enacted impact fees, the small increase in new home prices would have benefited existing homeowners (and realtors) because we all would have received the same incremental increase in our property values, not to mention the increased value provided by the additional infrastructure improvements. Would that deter some from home ownership? Of course not; because Farragut does not exist in isolation. Sales of homes in Farragut - large and small, new or old - have been and will continue to be in competition with homes in the greater Knoxville area. I doubt it’s escaped anyone’s attention, including a homebuilder such as Mr. Markli, that existing as well as new homes sell at a premium in Farragut. Why is that true and why do they still sell? It’s because the demand to live in our community, with its greater attention to standards and quality, is higher. The real estate market is based on location and Farragut is a great location! In yet another misleading statement, Mr. Markli suggests that Mr. Stevens’ opposition to impact fees was in dispute. It was not. The fact, which Mr. Markli ignores, is that I accurately reported Mr. Stevens’ acknowledgement that impact fees have not harmed growth in the fast growing communities around Nashville. Even Mr. Markli must be willing to concede that growth in Farragut and the surrounding southwest sector of Knox County is most like that of metro Nashville not rural Loudon County.

It’s also neither complicated nor surprising that the Turkey Creek development is proceeding east to west. It was determined by access and location. The larger, deeper tracts of land are located at the east end of Turkey Creek and together the county and state improved Lovell Road and the interstate exchange in the late 1990s. Accordingly, the first contracts were signed with Baptist Hospital, which developed on ~ 40 acres in Farragut, and with Thomas Enterprises, which developed the Wal-Mart - Target Center on ~ 60 acres in Knoxville. The City of Knoxville also contributed funds to build Parkside Road - something that the Town could not do because of its limited resources. What Mr. Markli has confirmed is that if the combined recurring Knox County and City of Knoxville property taxes were not an impediment to locating retail in the Knoxville portion of Turkey Creek, the proposed, smaller one-time impact fee – (the equivalent of 3 to 4 years of the Knoxville property tax) – would also not deter commercial development in Farragut. And the reason is simple to understand. Retail, like real estate, is all about location.

Finally, Mr. Markli fails to understand the two most important facts I illustrated in my last letter. First, the Town’s population is not static so the demand for more parks (we currently have less park acreage per capita than Knox County), greenways, and improved roads will only grow as our population grows. Second, a careful examination of the Town’s budget will show, at our current spending rate, neither our share of the local sales tax option nor impact fees alone will be sufficient to meet the needs of our growing community. Future Boards must face these issues and make decisions based on limited resources. Impact fees, as I have stated previously, are fairer than a property tax and a better choice than borrowing because it requires those that create the need to bear a larger share of the cost.

If he had been more diligent, Mr. Markli would know that impact fees are not anti development nor are they illegal. They have been upheld by courts all across the US (when written using simple guidelines for their application - the so called legal nexus and why we hired experts) and successfully used to target infrastructure needs to ensure that growth does not overwhelm the ability of the community to cope with it. The surest way to stir up anti-growth sentiment is not to maintain the capacity of our roads, parks and schools. We’re all too familiar with the consequences of delaying action on school capacity. Good government requires planning and foresight, not arguments over who will pay for more expensive fixes after the public demands action to correct what should have been an anticipated problem.

Tom Rosseel,

Alderman Ward I

 

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