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Belleaire fires rekindled

Old controversies erupted into argument at Farragut Municipal Planning Commission’s Nov. 19 meeting, at which Commission unanimously approved First Baptist Concord’s final site plan.

Belleaire resident Bob Jones asked FMPC members how long Old Belleaire Drive would be allowed to exist so close to New Belleaire.

The proximity of the two drives caused traffic problems, he said.

“It is a temporary situation, but we don’t know the temporariness of it,” Jones said, adding he remembered a time frame of 18 to 24 months being discussed.

“When you run out of money, it goes from being a short-term plan to a long-term plan. My fear is that it will become a permanent plan,” he added.

Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said Old Belleaire would be removed when FBC knocks down its older A-frame buildings and builds another entrance road across Kingston Pike from Russgate Boulevard.

There is no time frame for that, Hawk said.

Instead, the trigger for action is that First Baptist cannot make any renovations to its sanctuary without demolishing the A-frames first.

“It could last any number of years,” Hawk said, adding the Kohl’s department store entrance is “temporary;” it should have connected to Jamestowne Boulevard.

“It’s been that way for years,” Hawk said.

Commissioner Ron Rochelle agreed with Jones.

“I’m really not inclined to give First Baptist a free pass. I think the residents of Belleaire have been persecuted enough,” he said.

Rochelle asked Site Incorporated representative Annette Hummel, the civil engineers for the site, for a definitive timetable.

“What are the plans for Old Belleaire? And I don’t want to hear temporary,” he asked.

“I can’t answer that,” Hummel said.

No representative from the church came forward.

Commissioner Ed St. Clair, who sat on FMPC during all the First Baptist planning talks, took issue with Rochelle’s comments.

“If [the church does] anything, they’ve got to do that road. … They will get back to their plan, I’m sure one of these days, as soon as they can,” St. Clair said.

“It will be ultimately better when the plan is finished, no one is arguing that,” he added.

Commissioner Ron Honken said, “You have to do some things over time.”

Hawk agreed, calling the plan “incremental,” similar to the Town’s greenway or park projects.

Honken also disagreed with the term “free pass,” saying the First Baptist expansion had been a difficult situation to negotiate.

He asked Hawk if anything could even be done to change the situation at this point.

Hawk said no.

The stipulations for First Baptist Concord moving Old Belleaire were part of an ordinance that already has been passed, she said.

The final plat was merely finalizing new lot lines in a legal document that would go to Knox County Register of Deeds. The final plat also gave Old Belleaire to FBC and relinquished New Belleaire right-of-way to the Town.

Commissioner Ed Whiting said, looking at the plans, there was no alternative to keeping Old Belleaire open.

FBC has closed two former access points to Kingston Pike in exchange for using Old Belleaire as an entrance to the school.

“We’ll just have to deal with it,” he said.

Whiting moved to approve the final plat; St. Clair seconded. The motion was approved unanimously.


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