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BOMA amends driveway ordinance

After months of discussion, Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission unanimously passed an amendment to allow circular driveways on residential lots with about 130 feet of road frontage.

At its meeting Thursday, July 16, Bridgemore subdivision developer Jerry Whitehead addressed Commission regarding the amendment he had pushed for.

“We appreciate all the consideration … but what we were trying to do in the beginning was give architects, designers [and] landscape architects the flexibility to do circular drives on lots less than 200 feet,” Whitehead said.

Formerly, circular drives were allowed on residential lots with only 200 feet or more of road frontage.

As a compromise with Whitehead, Community Development Director Ruth Hawk had created an amendment that would allow circular drives only in Bridgemore or future subdivisions built with narrower-than-normal roads.

However, Whitehead said such an amendment wasn’t fair to all developers, and called Vista subdivision developer Noah Myers to address Commission as well.

“What Jerry and I would like to do tonight is reword this ordinance that I think serves all the community in all subdivisions, whether it’s a subdivision that’s been there 40 years or a new subdivision.

“Equally and fairly apply some sort of circular driveway amendment,” Myers said.

Commissioner Ron Honken recommended Hawk simply remove the “narrow road” clause limiting the amendment to Bridgemore only.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche agreed, saying, “Whatever we do, it must be fair.”

Hawk cautioned commissioners about possible dangers to allowing circular drives on smaller lots, including “massing” concrete in yards to create miniature parking lots.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see anyone massing the entire front yard in concrete either, but we think there’s a reasonable approach into being eligible for a circular driveway,” Myers said.

Commissioners discussed at length the minimum lot size that should be considered for a circular drive, and ultimately decided not to include one.

Myers said 200-foot wide lots were uncommonly large, and even 150-foot wide lots were larger than those in most subdivisions. He recommended a 120-foot minimum.

Several commissioners pointed out the proposed standards for circular driveway construction would necessitate a 130-foot wide lot.

“What do we fear is going to happen?” Mayor Ralph McGill asked.

“People are not suddenly going to rush in here and ask for permission to retrofit their yards with a circular driveway. I certainly wouldn’t,” he added.

“The concern is … they won’t do it particularly well,” Hawk said.

Ultimately, the amendment allowing circular drives to be constructed on local streets in a residential subdivision was passed unanimously.

Whitehead and Myers thanked Commission.

“When you remove flexibility from any creative or artistic development, you end up with straight lines and you end up with a streetscape that’s maybe not that great,” Whitehead said.

“Having the flexibility gives people the opportunity to do something very special,” he added.


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