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15 people appointed to charterless committee

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed 15 people to an Economic Development Committee, but didn’t approve a charter forming the committee at its meeting, Thursday, Sept. 10.

“My vision of this is that it would be a small, agile, autonomous body,” Alderman Bob Markli said.

“I question that we need seven at-large members, first of all, whether it needs to be that large,” he added.

The charter called for nine members, including a Board representative and the Town Administrator, but in the end, the Board appointed all 13 applicants (plus Markli as Board representative and Gary Palmer, Interim Town Administrator), and tried to appoint someone without an application.

However, Markli said he hadn’t had time to review the charter for the committee and didn’t feel comfortable voting on it.

“I didn’t get a chance to study it that well, so I don’t feel comfortable,” Markli said.

Alderman John Williams said he’d not read the most recent charter proposal either, and agreed to postpone the charter vote.

Markli did advocate appointing members to the committee, since eight of the applicants sat in the audience more than two hours waiting for the agenda item.

Appointees to the committee included Ginny McLain-Tate, Laura DeMarse, William “Brad” Fitch, R. Knick Myers, Ram S. Suga, Pamela Treacy, Jonas Rice, Bill Johns, Greg Muldrew, Jim Holladay, David Purvis, Nancy Howard and Phil Dangel.

Markli tried to appoint Turkey Creek Land Partners representative Jim Nixon, despite the fact Palmer said had not received an application from him.

“He told me he had sent in an application. … He does have significant business interests in the Town,” Markli said.

“I thought it was very important we have someone from the development community on this committee. ... I would hate to exclude them,” he added.

“The time for the applications is over. Maybe he can apply next year. I’m sorry. His ion didn’t come in and I don’t think he should be considered,” Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said.

“That’s the way I thought we worked it here,” she added.

“I have to agree with Dot. If we don’t have a documented application, I don’t see how we can appoint him,” Williams said.

After some discussion, the Board didn’t appoint Nixon, although Palmer said Nixon would be an asset.

Alderman Jeff Elliott advocated selecting members for the committee based on their areas of expertise, for example, including small business, banking, real estate, development and general community representatives.

Palmer said those requirements would “shake out” as the committee met and worked together, and the current applicants fell into those categories without the Board requiring them.

Williams asked if committee members, if not citizens of the Town, should be required to have “majority interest” in a business to participate.

“What if all they do is provide a ground lease for a business? Is that enough to qualify for service on the committee?” Williams asked.

Elliott voiced concern that if the Town left these qualifications too broad, the majority of members of the committee could “not even live in the Town.”

The Board decided to take up the definition of “business interests” at its Sept. 24 meeting, along with the rest of the charter, although Board members continued to discuss it in some detail.

The Board discussed four-year terms versus the standard committee two-year terms. Audience appointees advocated four-year terms. However, the Board didn’t decide on that, or on which committee members would receive shorter initial terms (to stagger terms), or whether to implement two-term limits.

The Board unanimously agreed to expand the number of members of the committee, predicting more absences among a committee made up of community members with full plates already.


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