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FMPC approves Belleaire relocation


Despite pleas and skepticism from three Belleaire residents, relocation of Belleaire Drive, now incorporated into First Baptist Church, Concord’s $37.5 million Master Concept Plan, received unanimous approval from Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.

With an 8-0 vote — Alderman Ron Honken absent — Commission approved a roughly 220 feet move east at Kingston Pike allowing the new 1,212 linear foot relocated section to serve as a buffer between all FBC expansion and neighborhoods east of Belleaire Drive. This came during FMPC’s monthly meeting, Thursday, March 20, in Town Hall.

Town staff also recommended the move despite many residents on hand — particularly those from Belleaire subdivision, Shiloh condominiums and Derby Chase — unhappy with the church’s expansion into their neighborhood through house

purchases.

Among those is Bob Jones, Crestview Drive, who spoke to FMPC about a March 12 meeting with town attorney Tom Hale, Town staff members and representatives from the church and neighborhoods concerning FBC’s preliminary plat and the relocation of Belleaire Drive.

“I just felt like we were rushed, we were never able to fully explain a lot of things,” Jones said. “… I didn’t get the feeling they were willing to commit too much at all because they couldn’t guarantee what the future leadership of the church would want to do.

“I don’t see how you can negotiate with people who are unwilling to shake your hand, look you in the eye and say, ‘[Expansion] stops here.’”

About the relocation of Belleaire Drive specifically, “After reviewing the scheduling of the church, their construction, I think there’s a rush to move Belleaire,” Jones said. “And it’s no secret why they want to move Belleaire, because once Bellearie’s moved we have no say, we have no fight. There’s nothing left.”

The Belleaire resident said having “Old Belleaire and New Belleaire” open at the same time could present “a hazard” being “so close together.”

Jones said residents “have been refused documents by the town of Farragut, we’ve not been allowed to see ’em when we’ve asked for ’em. And it’s not like we showed up at lunchtime when no one was there.

“We’ve come back several times, we’ve contacted the Mayor [W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III],” Jones added. “There is such a thing as open records. When something is submitted to the town of Farragut, it’s public record.”

No FMPC or town official responded.

Lamar Orr, who said he’s lived in Belleaire “almost 43 years,” also voiced opposition to new Belleaire Drive.

Orr, answering Commissioner Rita Holladay’s question about potential advantages of having no FBC traffic to deal with on the new road, said that based “on a traffic study … the problem is when we get on Kingston Pike. … The problem is not that great on the old road.”

Albert Hiliger, a Belleaire resident, quoted a letter he said was written by FBC pastor, the Rev. Doug Sager and dated Sept. 9, 2002: “’The Belleaire community is a historic one in Farragut … one of our immediate goals is to eliminate parking on Belleaire Drive.’

“Parking along Belleaire Drive was still a problem in 2006 and in 2007, and the related problem of parking in the yards along Belleaire Drive is still going on,” Hiliger added.

Hiliger also said “he was told” the church violated then existing covenant and restrictions “about 15 years ago” when it razed a home to build a parking lot.

John King, church attorney, said he “did not propose to respond” to Jones or Hiliger’s comments.

David Robinette, engineer representing the church, said the new Belleaire Drive would span 39 feet between curbs [with gutter], which will be located on both sides.

Sidewalks are planned for the east side, or “neighborhood side,” with “three feet of grass” dividing a “five foot sidewalk” according to Robinette.

Without sidewalks or curbs, the current Belleaire Drive features “about 30 feet of pavement at Kingston Pike,” Robinette said.

Bob Hill, Commission chair, said he was “concerned that on this new road it comes into Belleaire hill on a curve, and then you’re entering that curve and going up over and over a blind hill.”

Hill asked if any experts could “reduce the elevation of Belleaire hill” for safety issues. … It’s something the town should consider.”

The chairman also advised the town to obtain Tennessee Department of Transportation permission to install a signal light at the new FBC entrance exit intersection with Russgate Boulevard.

“Having a signal there would [give] some break to the traffic to allow a person to even negotiate a right turn [at new Belleaire],” Hill said.

Due to heavy Kingston Pike traffic and various Farragut expansion, Hill said the town “ought to have a traffic system study that goes from S. Campbell Road extension to Smith Road.”

Hill said problems could occur “if you’re using [current Belleaire] as an active road and we have [new Belleaire] in use again, there’s going to be traffic interference there because they are not very far apart.”

In a discussion about drainage issues, especially those in and around Shiloh, town engineer Darryl Smith said, “the detention basin that [FBC is] proposing, in my opinion, is going to function a lot better than the detention that’s out there now.

“All-in-all, the drainage throughout this whole watershed should operate quite a bit better,” Smith added.

However, Commissioner Connie Rutenber said she had “concerns about drainage to the west of Shiloh,” particularly a “grassy” buffer area between new Belleaire Drive and Shiloh.

Gene Larson, a Shiloh resident and mechanical engineer, echoed Rutenber’s concerns about such drainage based on reviewing “29 drawings.”

Larson said a 48-inch drainage pipe serving Shiloh and vicinity may not be sufficient to avoid back-up, given FBC and other area development.

“And when it backs up, you know where it backs up to — Shiloh,” Larson added.

 

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