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Founding leaders tell the tale of Farragut


Six of the original seven founding leaders of Farragut spoke at Town Hall’s “The Founding of Farragut: The Forefathers Speak,” 30 years to the day of Farragut’s founding, Saturday, Jan. 16.

The six founders present each shared why they became members of what they called the Farragut Community Group and why they fought for Farragut to become incorporated in the late 1970s.

Former Kingsgate resident and founding seven member Eric Johnson said, “We didn’t have any water pressure on the top of the hill where I lived. We were neglected – poor roads.”

After recently moving to Knoxville, then Village Green resident and current Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill was fighting storm water issues with Knox County to no avail.


“No one would listen,” McGill said.

In the summer of 1977, homeowners associations were growing increasingly upset with Knox County Zoning Commission.

Former alderman and founding seven member Betty Dick considered its decisions to be “illogical in reasoning. We thought our citizens could do a better job at rezoning.”

After dozens and dozens of KCZC meetings where area homeowners fought to abolish commercial development by Knox County, homeowners realized in 1979 they would have to use a different strategy.

They decided to incorporate their community, what we now know to be town of Farragut.

Why name the new city Farragut?

Dave Rodgers, attorney for the group and member of the seven, used the name first while filing the initial paperwork in fall 1979. “Town” was used in place of “City” because town has a personal feel. “Concord” was widely used throughout the United States. “Farragut” almost was unique and coincided with the names of area schools.

Why aren’t Concord Hills and the area off Watt Road (now truck stops) included in the town of Farragut?

It was too risky, McGill said. Any city with a population of 100,000 or greater that was closer than five miles to the proposed incorporation (Farragut) would be allowed to halt the incorporation of Farragut for a 90-day period. During that time, that city could annex land in and around Farragut, leaving Farragut “dead in the water.” That removed Concord Hills from the proposed map of Farragut because Knoxville could have stepped in and ended the hope of incorporation.

Also, for cities with a population less than 100,000, a two-mile gap between the city and proposed town was necessary for Farragut to be incorporated.

Oak Ridge, believe it or not, is within two miles of what would have been Farragut if the initial land area had been submitted, McGill said.

“We didn’t expect Oak Ridge to give us trouble. But we thought Knoxville would push Oak Ridge,” McGill said.

Members of the seven include Dick, George Dorsey, Eric Johnson, McGill, Gene McNalley, Rodgers and Ron Simandl.

Among the seven, there were two engineers, two chemists, one nurse, one attorney and one highway patrolman. All members were in their 30s at the start of incorporating the town of Farragut.

The primary homeowners associations involved were Fox Den, Village Green, Kingsgate, Concord Hills and Linda Heights.

The incorporation passed Jan. 15, 1980, by a vote of 1,020 in favor and 320 opposed. The Knox County Election Commission certified the election results that night.

Dorsey and Rodgers drove the vote and other documents to Nashville to file the proposed charter for the town of Farragut.

The Town held its first election for Board of Mayor and Aldermen April 1, 1980. Dorsey, Johnson, Marianne McGill and Eddy Ford were elected.

 

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