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FMPC to convene ‘special’ session

Farragut residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions about the proposed Public Market at a special called meeting of Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission, to be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 7.

Mayor Ralph McGill asked for the meeting at the most recent FMPC meeting Dec. 17.

“It offers the public a chance to comment,” McGill said.

“It’s rare, but it’s been done before,” Commissioner Ed St. Clair said about the special meeting.

FMPC will hold the meeting as a joint workshop and voting session, with only the Public Market on the agenda.

McGill called the current Outlet Mall building a “blighted area.”

“Let’s say its image today is not very good. It’s run down; its parking lot is all full of weeds,” he added.

The former Outlet Mall is approximately 160,000 square feet, built in the early 1980s and closed for nearly 20 years. The building, McGill said, is too large for the lot on which it sits, which means it does not conform to many of Farragut’s current standards.

“When you redevelop a property like this, you now have to meet today’s standards; not 1980’s standards,” McGill said.

“You’re not grandfathered,” he added.

Because of the size of the current building, the proposed Public Market does not meet Farragut’s requirements for green space or parking.

The Public Market also would include a venue for outdoor sales, which Farragut currently bans.

But there’s a way around all that, McGill said.

“If you look at their zoning code, it’s C2-RW, which means retail slash warehouse. It is the only property in the Town with this zoning.

“If you make a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to that zone, it applies only to that property,” McGill said.

A zoning change would allow “some leeway in those areas where they are having trouble coming up with the numbers,” he added.

The normal process for requesting variances involves going before the Board of Zoning Appeals, then to FMPC.

But McGill said that would be too time consuming for this project, which also is why a meeting on this property couldn’t wait for January’s regular FMPC meeting.

Developer Charles Atchley Sr. loses the option to buy the property in February, plus [the owner of Outlet Mall, Mike Ross,] is facing possible bankruptcy, McGill said.

“The owner is in some difficulty in terms of possible bankruptcy, I guess,” he said.

“All I know is what I read. [Ross has] been sued a few times,” Jim Nixon, Atchley’s representative, said.

“We want to work with them and we want to do it in as timely a manner as possible,” McGill said.

“They are really challenged to meet all these standards, and yet they offer something that represents something that’s a lot better than what’s there today,” he added.

Commissioner Cindy Holly-field said she had a lot of questions about the property.

Commissioner Ron Honken said the special called meeting was “the best way to go.”

Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said she needed an application from Nixon to get the item on the agenda and published in public notices.

She also said FMPC must vote on any special called meeting.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche moved to have the meeting Jan. 7. Honken seconded, and the motion was approved unanimously.

After the special called meeting, the text amendment will go before Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen for two readings. If approved all the way down the line, the developers must return to FMPC for approval of a site plan.


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