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Banks given free rein to locate in any commercial zone

Banks are free to locate on any commercial-zoned land they want, said Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Thursday, March 25.

The Board had long discussed a limitation to where banks could locate in Town, relegating them only to land zoned for office space.

“It would substantially reduce the land area,” Community Development Director Ruth Hawk said.

Town staff presented the Board with maps showing the current locations of Farragut’s 23 lending institutions and the office-zoned land on which they could locate.

“I’m glad you made these maps, because they really make it clear that confining them to office zones just about eliminates the possibility of more banks, which I don’t think we intend to do,” Mayor Ralph McGill said.

“It would not be wise for us to pass this,” he added.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche, who was the lone approving vote in a Farragut Municipal Planning Commission vote, disagreed.

“I heard from a reliable subject that there will be several banks in our area that will be closed in the near future.

“We need things that are going to bring revenue into our Town,” LaMarche said.

Alderman Bob Markli agreed he wanted to see more revenue-producing businesses, but said he failed to see a connection with limiting where banks could be built.

“I feel there’s a laudable impulse behind this amendment, but I don’t think there’s a logical conclusion to the chain of thought,” Markli said.

Alderman John Williams agreed, “This is probably not the right strategy to enact.

“If there’s going to be a serious concern for revenue, then obviously a radical different approach than banishing banks from commercial districts will be the right way to go,” Williams said.

“I would much rather support some other avenue of revenue generation from the town of Farragut, if the need arises, rather than limiting banks to inaccessible locations,” he added.

Alderman Jeff Elliott said, “I would like to see the focus on revenue generating businesses at prime locations, which I would think the businesses would want to locate at.

“But at the same time, I don’t want to be in a position of putting a ban on banks and relegating them out to the hinterlands,” he added.

Furthermore, Markli said he didn’t want to place any more limits on Farragut businesses.

“Our efforts might be more productively spent in looking at ways we might adjust the ordinance in ways that encourage the re-use of commercial vacant space, of which we have an ample plentitude in Town,” he said.

Because motions only can be made in a positive form, McGill made a motion to accept the limitation. The motion died for lack of a second.

“Good enough,” McGill said.


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