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Strike two: FMPC denies motel sign

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission denied, for a second time, a request for a motel off Outlet Drive to keep an existing illegal Interstate sign.

“The issue is, we do not have a level playing field,” Damon Falconnier, representative for West Plaza Inn & Suites, said at the FMPC meeting Thursday, Sept. 19.

Falconnier said he wanted “the same advantages” as merchants along Campbell Station Road near the Interstate-40/75 interchange. Merchants located within 500 feet of the CSR and I-40/75 interchange are allowed large pylon Interstate signs, but those outside that area are not.

“Those merchants there, those hotels and gas stations and things, have the opportunity to build signs in a way that this particular site cannot because it is not within 500 feet,” Falconnier said.

“We think it’s reasonable for this request to allow these merchants ... to have the same opportunities to compete as the merchants on Campbell Station Road.

“Right now, they do not,” he added.

Commissioner Ron Rochelle asked if the Farragut Public Market would be allowed a large Interstate sign.

“They’ll be on the same road, right? ... I can’t see Farragut Public Market from the Interstate,” Rochelle said.

“I don’t want to create something for you that I’m not creating for Farragut Public Market,” he added.

Farragut Community Develop-ment Director Ruth Hawk pointed out West Plaza Inn & Suites has the same sign allowances as any Interstate-facing building along Parkside Drive, whether in Farragut or City of Knoxville limits.

“Any businesses facing the Interstate can have a wall-mounted sign,” she said.

The motel currently does not have a wall-mounted sign.

Falconnier asked FMPC for a zoning ordinance change that ultimately wouldn’t change any zoning requirements, but would change a signage requirement, allowing the hotel to keep a large pylon Interstate sign.

FMPC already has denied a sign ordinance change request from Falconnier.

Mayor Ralph McGill asked Hawk when the 500-foot Interstate sign allowance ordinance had been adopted.

Hawk said that happened about 12 years ago as development was just beginning on Turkey Creek.

“Jim Nixon really advocated this to avoid the pylon signs on Parkside [Drive]. Pylons would be clustered only near the interchanges,” Hawk said.

McGill urged caution for commissioners as they approved or denied a signage change that would only affect one business.

“We need to avoid anything that looks arbitrary,” McGill said.

FMPC members agreed.

“Our point has really been that we want to do this as a whole,” FMPC chair Rita Holladay told Falconnier.

FMPC members previously have told him they planned to re-evaluate signage requirements along Outlet Drive once Outlet is extended to Snyder Road and Campbell Station.

“It seems like we need to wait ... to make it consistent,” Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche said.

“We need to reconsider all of this ... after we see what is going on in Snyder and Outlet Drive,” she added.

The zoning request change was unanimously denied, with commissioners Ron Honken, Ed St. Clair and Ed Whiting absent.


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