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Belleaire Drive move proposed

Based on a new lay-out devised by two Farragut town leaders, First Baptist Church, Concord is willing to scale down its original $37.5 million Master Expansion plan while adding “substantial additional” expense in order to compromise with anti-expansion residents nearby.

The church would have no access to a newly routed Belleaire Drive, which would move east to allow all FBC expansion to be west of the new road and not border subdivisions where many residents are reportedly hostile to expansion.

While its future main entrance is planned to move eastward and line up with the entrance to Village Green subdivision at Russgate Boulevard, the church would set aside approximately four acres for single-family residential lots in the southeast corner of its property adjacent to Belleaire subdivision.

However, attorney Arthur Seymour claimed the three neighborhoods he represents that are fighting FBC over Master Expansion details (Belleaire, Derby Chase and Shiloh) hadn’t been given enough time to digest the revised plan for an informed response.

Seymour and John King, church attorney, presented their cases during Farragut Municipal Planning Commission’s Thursday, Feb. 21 meeting in Town Hall.

Seymour said he met with some Belleaire residents Saturday, Feb. 16, after first obtaining a copy of the revised Master Expansion plan from King Feb. 11.

“The decision was, ‘let’s think about option one [original plan], option two and maybe see if there’s another option whereby our neighborhood would be not as severely impacted,’” Seymour said, adding Belleaire residents said “no” to the plan upon an “emergency” meeting Wednesday, Feb. 20. “It’s because they haven’t had the time to look at this concept.”

Seymour and King, who sought FMPC feedback at the Feb. 21 meeting, were to plan a workshop session with Commission before its next meeting March 20.

King said the church needed “direction” based on FMPC feedback in order “to keep some sort of a timetable” and know how to


However, Farragut Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said he believed it was “in all fairness that Mr. Seymour have the opportunity to bring [neighbors] together to talk among themselves about the issues … It is no benefit for us tonight as members of this Planning Commission to try to give our comments without having first heard the residents give their comments.”

Seymour said he was “surprised” the church had filed a preliminary plat “for relocation of Belleaire Drive” that was originally set to be addressed at the March FMPC meeting.

Seymour also said he was “concerned that you’re going to end up with a situation where there will be long-lasting hostility between the church and these three neighborhoods if there’s not adequate time for discussion.”

The Commission voted 7-1 to postpone hearing the matter until March, with Commissioner Dorothy “Dot” LeMarche voting no. Commissioner Connie Rutenber was absent.

Tom Hale, Farragut town attorney, and Ruth Hawk, town Community Development director, combined forces to amend the original Master Expansion plan.

“Which lay-out and which design solves the most problems and eliminates the most concerns that had been raised by the people who are naturally concerned about the development of the property?” Hale said about their objective. “Believe me, this was not the church’s idea and it wasn’t the neighborhoods’ idea.”

Hale and Hawk’s “four basic concepts” also included burming and landscaping buffers between the new Belleaire Drive and neighborhoods, including a “combined” retention basin be located east of the new Belleaire Drive to serve the church, Shiloh and Derby Chase.

She said the new church entrance would include an eastbound deceleration lane.

“One of the biggest concerns staff had with [the original plan] was that Belleaire Drive would bisect church functions on both sides of Belleaire,” Hawk said. “The relocation doesn’t solve all of the problems that we heard people talking about, but we felt it addressed the ones we heard repeatedly expressed.”

Without a compromise Master Expansion plan, Hale labeled the church-neighborhood differences “a pretty serious impasse.”


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