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Staff says ‘no’ to flags

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission is recommending denial of an ordinance allowing hotels to fly commercial flags to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen after a tie vote at its meeting Thursday, Nov. 19.

“It’s not really fair to do just hotels and no one else,” Commissioner Cindy Hollyfield said.

Commission unanimously approved a resolution recommending the Board adopt definitions for “flagpole” and “government flags,” allowing school-affiliated flags to be flown by businesses.

But flying commercial flags was a stickier subject.

“The success of a flag is typically dependent on a recognizable logo,” Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said.

For example, she said, Aubrey’s could fly a flag, but it would not be as recognizable as a McDonald’s flag.

“We feel that an amendment that places large corporations over a local business or a smaller-scale business is not desirable,” she added.

Commissioner Ed Whiting said hotels often are identified via flags by their “transient traffic” customers.

Most hotels, while part of a national brand, are locally owned anyway, he added.

But Hollyfield said opening the door to hotels flying commercial flags would soon mean requests from other businesses.

“Do you want to see flags flying just everywhere?” she asked.

Commissioner Ron Honken said he did not envision that happening, adding the amendment applied only to hotels.

“But it’s a chink in the dam,” Commissioner Melissa Mustard said.

“If we’re so willing to do this, why don’t we do it for everyone?” she asked.

“I just do not want to see that,” she added.

Mustard said commercial flags, which essentially are business signs, could be flown far higher than Farragut’s sign ordinance allows any signs to be.

Hawk agreed, saying buildings are allowed to be 70 feet tall in Farragut limits, so a flag could conceivably be flown that high as well.

“If it’s OK for a hotel, why is it not OK for everyone else? That’s where staff is coming from,” Hawk said.

“You shouldn’t be living by ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease;’ you should be looking at a comprehensive approach to what is best for the community,” she added.

No applicant brought the agenda item before FMPC; instead, it is part of the Town’s work program, an item added by Mayor Ralph McGill.

McGill was not in attendance at the FMPC meeting.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche moved to approve the resolution allowing hotels to fly commercial flags; Whiting seconded.

The motion was defeated by a tie vote, with Hollyfield, Mustard, FMPC chair Rita Holladay and commissioner Ron Rochelle voting no.

A tie is considered a loss by Robert’s Rules of Order because there is not a majority vote in the affirmative. FMPC’s “no” vote joins negative recommendations from Town staff and the Visual Resources Review Board.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will next take up the matter.


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