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Belleaire residents accuse Farragut staff, Board, of

Belleaire subdivision residents accused Town staff of violating Tennessee Open Records Act at a Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting May 22.

“Over the past few months, there’s been some things going on in this town and Tennessee state law has been violated. As citizens and as voters, we cannot allow our municipal government to violate state law, no exceptions,” said Bob Jones, a Crestview Road resident.

“On several occasions from August 2007 to May 2008, residents of the Town of Farragut were refused the right to see plans submitted to the Town. These residents weren’t asking for copies or any special considerations, just to look briefly at the plans,” he added.

Jones cited a specific incident in February claiming a Town resident, whom he did not name, asked to see plans submitted to the Town but was not able to view them for more than a week after his request.

The date the man viewed the plans was one day prior to the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting at which those plans were discussed.

“And that pretty much ham-strung Belleaire subdivision from doing any kind of preliminary planning for that meeting,” Jones said.

Jones claimed that Jeanne Brykalski, Lamar Orr, David Fitz and Bud Fitzgerald had similar experiences with Town staff.

Town attorney Tom Hale said, “I have been doing this ten years; we’ve never had a problem with public documents for ten years, no complaints, no nothing. We have now started to get a lot of requests for documents, large requests, and it has started to put a big burden on the staff to get it done,” Belleaire Drive resident David Fitz asked that the Board halt all projects approved from August 2007 to May 2008.

Fitz said, “I make a motion that an order be issued to stop work on all projects currently under construction and review any and all projects approved during that time. And also, not to agree to any further projects until the town of Farragut is in compliance with the state law.

“This issue must be resolved, not in executive session, but in a public forum so that the citizens and voters of Farragut will know that the problem has been corrected,” he added.

Jones said, “I charge you the Mayor and Board of Aldermen with the responsibility of taking whatever action is necessary to remedy this violation and bring the town of Farragut into compliance with Tennessee state law.”

Up for second reading during the Board meeting was Ordinance 08-07, an amendment to the Farragut Municipal Code concerning copies of records and ordinances.

“We see that this item has been added to the agenda, which wasn’t published in the paper that I was aware of, but it’s good to see you’ve finally taken notice of it even though it’s taken six months,” Jones said.

“This is an amendment to govern the process of requesting public records, what can be requested, how long it will take, and a fee schedule,” said Gary Palmer, associate Town administrator.

“We had a public records request format already in the ordinance, but it wasn’t very comprehensive,” he added.

The amended ordinance includes a form to record the date, the requestor’s name, address and contact information and the format and type of information requested.

After the form is filled out, the Town recorder will pass it to the department head who holds the record. If the record is not available by the end of the second full working day, the requestor should be contacted with an explanation and date the records will be available.

Requestors must pay for copies of records in advance.

“We need to have some rules that work for everybody and that’s what this is designed to do,” Hale said.


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