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FMPC elects officers, addresses elderly housing

The first meeting for four new Town planning commissioners proved to be a short one Thursday night, June 18.

“Don’t get used to it,” Mayor Ralph McGill warned with a laugh.

Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission unanimously elected temporary officers: Rita Holladay as chairman and Ed Whiting as secretary.

According to FMPC’s by-laws, elections are to be held in July. In order to conduct the meeting, FMPC had to elect temporary officers in June.

FMPC also appointed its representative to the Stormwater Advisory Committee.

“I would volunteer for that position. I spent a goodly number of years of my career in the environmental engineering field,” Whiting said.

“Sounds like a volunteer to me,” FMPC Vice Chairman Ed St. Clair said. Whiting was unanimously elected representative.

The only agenda item for the meeting was a request to amend the text of Farragut Zoning Ordinance to eliminate the lot size requirement for elderly housing.

“Elderly housing is most commonly known as assisted living,” Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said, and includes such developments as NHC and Parkview West.

Currently, the Town requires all such developments be built in a commercial district and be set on at least five acres.

“There are certain development criteria that have to be met before it can be built. It’s not just a matter of it being five acres,” Hawk said.

These criteria, including setbacks and buffer strips, could not be met in a very small lot, and commercial district zoning require developments to be set on at least one acre anyway.

“This really is more about your comfort level on whether you feel there should be a minimum lot size,” Hawk said.

The five-acre minimum for elderly housing ensured that all development criteria could be easily met, but it also mandated a larger facility. If there were no minimum, the development criteria would not change.

“If they all stay the same, why do we care how big the lot is?” McGill asked.

Commissioner Ron Honken agreed. “Once you take into account the setbacks and all the other items in here, I think it becomes a non-issue,” he said.

New Commissioner Cindy Hollyfield was uncomfortable with eliminating a minimum lot size entirely.

“For checks and balances, I have a problem with eliminating it totally,” she said, although she added she would support lowering the minimum acreage requirement.

However, commercial lots must be one acre regardless of the development.

Damon Falcon, applicant for the amendment, said he would like to develop a smaller, homier assisted living residence.

“If we meet all the other stringent requirements … the size of the property really shouldn’t matter,” Falcon said.

The agenda item was for discussion only; a vote will be taken at FMPC’s July meeting.


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