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Arbor, pergola setbacks sparks discussion during commission meeting

Farragut Municipal Planning Commissioners discussed placement of arbors and pergolas in high-density residential developments at its meeting, Thursday, Sept. 17.

“What I had designed was an attached pergola to [the homeowner’s] home, to provide architectural detail [and] somewhat a shade structure,” Lori Gano, designer of Park Place subdivision, said.

“Because she had an issue with not having any shade in her courtyard, we decided to go with a pergola,” for the home on a corner lot, she added.

Gano’s proposed pergola will be about 22 by 23 feet, but will slightly butt into the required 50-foot setback around the building.

“All of the homeowners in Park Place have signed off on approval of the pergola,” Gano said.

“I tend to agree with Lori that pergolas and arbors are nice architectural features, but you all need to feel comfortable with that, and know the history [of the 50-foot setback],” Community Development Director Ruth Hawk told planning Commissioners.

“There’s nothing unattractive about this,” Hawk said, adding the Town saw many arbors constructed and/or requested in west-facing subdivisions.

Hawk said she simply was looking for feedback from Commissioners in order to write an ordinance amendment to allow arbors and pergolas in the 50-foot building setback in an R-4, or attached, single-family residential, development.

The guidelines set for the R-4 developments largely were to mandate variations in the development, Hawk said.

“We wanted to prevent the look of row-housing. … We tried to make it, so if you were coming home at night, you could find your place [and] it didn’t look like every other place in the development.

“We were trying to mandate, as part of the development, that you had variation,” she added.

This was accomplished through requiring slightly different designs for each building, or for having varying setbacks from the road.

Each unit also was required to have 400 feet of private outdoor area, with mandated 50-foot setbacks on the backs and sides of the buildings, separating the development from surrounding residential or commercial areas.

“Farragut is a conglomeration of subdivisions of single-family homes,” Hawk said.

“People get nervous when they think there is going to be high-density residential near them,” she added.

Commission Chair Rita Holladay asked if the pergola set slightly in the setback would interfere with anyone else’s privacy.

Hawk answered in the negative, and also assured commissioners she did not believe an ordinance amendment would cause problems in the future.

Hawk said the ordinance amendment would include definitions of arbors and pergolas and mandate size and height requirements.

The item was for discussion only; no vote was taken.


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