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guestview: Alderman John B. Williams, Ward 1


It has come to my attention that even citizens closely following developments in Farragut are puzzled by the recent action of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen regarding the potential purchase of nearly 17 acres on McFee Road.

Accordingly, I am writing to clarify the intent of my recommendation, supported unanimously by the Board, that the matter be referred to the [Farragut Municipal] Planning Commission for an “opinion.”

First, I will provide some background for those not following this closely. When originally proposed on Feb. 14 by Alderman Tom Rosseel, the property was to be bought and subsequently conveyed to Knox County Commission for use by Knox County School Board to build a new elementary/middle school within the town of Farragut.

This action represents a departure from long-standing practices of the Town, but has the obvious intention of accelerating the depopulation of the overcrowded schools within Farragut and increasing the likelihood that future zoning decisions by the School Board would retain students residing in Farragut in “Farragut” schools.

Several potential “conditions” of the future agreement were discussed but any decision was deferred to negotiations between the Town attorney and the Knox County Law Office.

Regrettably, this entire matter has become a contentious issue with strong and vocal support both pro and con. At that February meeting, a vote on the matter was postponed so that an April hearing could be held to receive public comment.

Last week, on May 8, Alderman Rosseel again proposed the purchase of the property for future use as either recreational land or for possible future school construction.

This time, the proposed purchase price and the consideration of the matter by the Board of Mayor and Alderman without having first vetted it through other town staff or the Planning Commission were criticized.

Consequently, I proposed, and the Board approved, that the matter be referred to the Planning Commission for study and issuing of an “opinion” on whether the purchase of the property was consistent with the goals of the TOF recreational master plan (see www.townoffarragut.org and farragutpress, Vol. 20, No. 24).

It should be understood that, in essence, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved using the Planning Commission as a supportive standing committee charged with considering the matter expediently and providing only an opinion for use by the Board.

Contrary to some citizen views, the Planning Commission has not been authorized to decide the ultimate fate of the matter. After receiving the nonbinding views of the Planning Commission and having already considered the public comments, the decision to purchase the land will be reconsidered for final approval or rejection by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen at a later date.

 

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