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Driveway talks resume in June

Bridgemore developer Jerry Whitehead asked Farragut Municipal Planning Commission to consider an amendment to allow circular drives in smaller lots at its meeting Thursday, April 16.

“We have built, I think, one of the finest developments in Town,” Whitehead said, adding he had visited the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s show house in Jefferson Park that same evening.

“This ordinance just doesn’t make sense to me because we could not have that symphony house in the town of Farragut,” Whitehead said.

Farragut’s current ordinance allows residential property with more than 200 feet of road frontage to have circular drives, and FMPC and Town staff review variances on a case-by-case basis. The KSO house had a circular drive with 118 feet of road frontage.

“There aren’t any 200-foot lots being built,” Whitehead said.

Farragut Community Develop-ment Director Ruth Hawk said the 200-foot mark was decided based on measurements done at the time the ordinance was written, and driveways placed close together could cause “extruded curbs.”

Mayor Eddy Ford, attending his final FMPC meeting as mayor, said he drove through Gettysvue and Concord Hills, both subdivisions with frequent use of circular drives, and saw no crumbling curbs.

Hawk said changing the ordinance also could make it easier for homeowners to have “massings of concrete” in their front yards.

“I don’t want to see so-called parking lots in yards … Common sense, unfortunately, is not handed out in equal portions,” Commissioner Ron Honken said.

“What Jerry wants is something that will work for Bridgemore, will work for him, but what we’ve got to do is change the ordinance so it works all over Town,” FMPC Chair Bob Hill said.

“It’s a global change,” he added.

Commissioner Ed St. Clair agreed: “there are some unintended consequences” to allowing that much concrete, including drainage and runoff problems.

“We’re not talking about the here and now. We’re talking about everywhere and for all time,” Commissioner Rita Holladay said.

Honken tried to find a middle ground between changing the ordinance totally and allowing Bridgemore its circular drives.

“I don’t think it has to be an all-or-nothing in this case,” Honken said.

“We’ve talked about before, here, the need to be somewhat evolutionary, not revolutionary, but evolutionary. I think there’s some opportunity here to do that,” he added.

Honken asked Hawk to do additional research and return with the discussion at FMPC’s June meeting, which Hawk agreed to.

She added homeowners in Bridgemore could ask for a variance, especially since Bridgemore’s streets were designed to be narrower than the 26-foot-wide standard, which accommodates on-street parking.

“Variances are met with staff disapproval regardless of situations,” Ford said, mentioning Heidi Shlenker, a Concord Hills resident whose circular drive variance was narrowly passed by FMPC, against staff’s recommendation.

“Staff will always recommend what the ordinance says,” Hawk said.

Whitehead asked that FMPC “keep from punishing the people who are doing it right in favor of the ones who might do it wrong.”

“The only person who has a problem is Jerry in a brand-new subdivision,” Hill said.

“And they can come for a variance,” Holladay added.

According to Hawk, a Bridgemore homeowner is scheduled for a variance hearing at FMPC’s May meeting.


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