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Local eatery airlock views aired

An illegal airlock at Sam and Andy’s generated discussion at Farragut Municipal Planning Commission’s meeting, Thursday, Dec. 18.

According to Aspen Square property manager Patrick Ham, the airlock was constructed in February 2007 to prevent cold drafts from disturbing customers. It couldn’t be constructed inside without extensive interior renovations, Ham said.

“This airlock had no monetary gain … this was just an effort to help our customer,” Ham said.

According to Farragut Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III, the interior of Sam and Andy’s “could not be more efficient … it’s customer-friendly.”

The problem, according to Community Development Director Ruth Hawk, is that the airlock obstructs the sidewalk.

“This sets a very bad precedent for pedestrian circulation in commercial developments throughout the Town,” Hawk said.

Ford said the airlock is constructed with doors on both sides, permitting those walking along the sidewalk to enter the airlock and exit on the other side, without having to walk around the airlock or go into the parking lot.

Commisssioner Connie Rutenber asked if the doors were wheelchair accessible.

“They don’t even manufacture doors anymore that aren’t wheelchair accessible,” Hawk said, but added the doors are not automatic.

In order to become legal, the airlock must not only be permitted, it must be reconstructed to allow free traffic movement along the sidewalk.

“I did not think something like this would require a permit,” Ham said.

“I never imagined it would balloon to this,” he added.

Ham said he, the landlord and owners of Sam and Andy’s had drawn up plans to extend the sidewalk beyond the airlock, but to do so would mean losing two parking spaces in front of the business.

“It’s just too valuable to lose two parking spots,” Ham said, citing the lunch crowd at the locally popular restaurant.

Ham first asked if the airlock could simply be forgiven, as it had been there for nearly two years, but FMPC members weren’t keen to the idea of leaving it as is.

“We are aware we didn’t go about this the right way and it will set a precedent,” Ham said.

“What we’ve got here is not something we want to proliferate in the Town,” FMPC Chair Robert “Bob” Hill said.

Ford recommended moving the entrance to the east and reconstructing the airlock inside the restaurant while other Commissioners voiced support for simply constructing a sidewalk around the existing airlock.

The item was postponed until February 2009 to give Ham time to draw up plans to move the airlock or change the sidewalk.

In other business, Commission:

• approved a site plan for Lakesedge Retail Development, 825 Lakesedge Drive.

• approved a site plan for FLP shops, 600 N. Campbell Station Road.

• discussed rough grading on Lot 7 at Campbell Station Exchange, South Campbell Station Road and Brooklawn Street.


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