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Commission grants circular driveway variance

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission approved a variance to allow a circular drive for a Bridgemore subdivision homeowner and discussed the parameters of an amendment to allow them.

“The concern that everybody did have was the law of unintended consequences: that changing an ordinance that affects pretty much every subdivision in Town … is not the goal,” Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said.

Requests for circular driveways in Bridgemore has led to much discussion at previous FMPC meetings, and Hawk said she acknowledged “Bridgemore is different.”

The subdivision has an entire planning crew, including a landscape architect, who helps design each home.

The landscape architects “go a bit beyond what most of us do,” Hawk said.

“While Jerry [White-head] has a landscape architect, most people who put these in won’t,” FMPC chair Bob Hill said.

“The applicant has requested the variance because the street is 24 feet wide, which is narrower than our standard 26-foot wide street,” Hawk said.

Hawk set some parameters for a possible amendment to allow circular drives, all of which the particular variance request met.

Circular drives would be allowed on lots less than 200 feet wide if the street on which the lot fronts is narrower than a normal street. Hawk also established a maximum amount of concrete/asphalt massing in the front yard of 35 percent and a maximum driveway width of 15 feet.

The driveways would have to have a minimum distance from each other of 60 feet and a minimum setback from the side property lines of 10 feet.

“The concept, personally, I like it,” Commissioner Ron Honken said, congratulating Hawk on the parameters she gathered from FMPC discussions.

“This is an evolutionary item rather than a revolutionary one,” Honken said.

After discussion, Hawk said an ordinance could recommend defining setbacks with a minimum of 10 feet and a total of 40 to “allow more creativity.”

However, Bridgemore developer Whitehead said the lay of the land, depth of the house and location of the entrance could dictate how a circular drive would be laid out.

“You just can’t have all variables,” Commissioner Ed St. Clair said.

“But there are going to be a lot of variable as we go along,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead also asked that the driveways be wider than 15 feet, to allow cars to park and cars to pass. According to Hawk, the driveways only had to be 15 feet wide on the Town right-of-way to keep the curbs to an acceptable length.

The driveways could be wider on private property, as long as it also met the parameter regarding the massing of asphalt in the front yard.

“This will narrow the effect of this all over Town … the unintended consequences will be reduced,” Hill said.

Right now, the parameters for an ordinance change would only apply to Bridgemore, Hawk said.

“I appreciate all the staff’s cooperation in this,” Whitehead said.

The variance was unanimously passed.

A text amendment to Farragut Municipal Code regarding circular drives will be read at the June FMPC meeting.


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