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Resident OK’s for change gets look by FMPC

Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission again took up an ordinance that would change the Town’s requirement that developers get unanimous approval from subdivision residents for any changes to concept plans or preliminary plats.

The item was for discussion only at the meeting, Thursday, Dec. 16.

In the end, FMPC members asked Community Development director Ruth Hawk to write a new ordinance that would call for a 75 percent approval rate of any changes by property owners. FMPC will vote on the ordinance at its January meeting.

“We’ve never really dealt with a developer changing [the plat]. This is the first time we’ve really dealt with that,” Hawk said.

The idea to no longer require unanimous approval came from Ken Russell, developer of The Cottages at Pryse Farm. Russell wants to change some of the planned homes in Pryse Farm from attached homes to detached homes, and that requires a modification in the plat.

A modification in the plat requires unanimous homeowner approval of the change.

Russell, who wasn’t able to attend the December meeting because of weather, has said at previous meetings he doesn’t mind the change this time, but doesn’t want to deal with it in the future.

At the FMPC’s November meeting, Russell said, “We think we’ll get everyone’s signature; we just don’t want this note on there going forward.”

“That’s a great burden on people going forward,” he added.

Hawk said that, instead, the requirement could be amended to require developers or property owners making major changes to notify every single property owner.

That requirement would apply only after a final plat has been recorded for at least one phase of the development — in other words, after homes have been built and people are living in them. It also would apply only to subdivisions with single attached dwellings.

“All residents shall be notified of such changes if those modifications are a material change to the platted building footprint,” Hawk said.

Hawk threw out a number of 50 percent of property owners who would have to approve the change.

Mayor Ralph McGill asked if the developer is counted as a property owner.

“As long as the developer owns any property in the subdivision, they are considered a property owner,” Hawk said.

“So they would have the same rights as the other property owners,” she added.

Commissioner Ron Rochelle asked if the Town wasn’t micromanaging.

“That’s really up to you all,” Hawk said.

“Part of what this is about is ensuring that people are aware of what’s going on and they have a vested interest in it,” she added.

Commissioner Ron Honken said he understood why the language existed in the first place.

“People in these types of developments have a certain expectation that is set on the front end, whether it be from brochures or some examples or spec houses.

“I do think we have a certain obligation to protect what they believe is going to happen,” Honken said.

However, he added, expecting a unanimous consent of any changes is a bit stringent.

“I do think there is a real opportunity for the developer, in certain cases, for lack of a better term, to be held hostage by one or two owners,” he added.

Honken said he still would recommend approval of changes by a supermajority — somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of property owners.

Commissioner Ed Whiting said he believed 80 percent was still a little high, but supported a super majority approval. McGill agreed.

McGill said the requirement for unanimous approval was only meant for very large changes, not for smaller changes, such as what he believed Russell was asking for.

Commission Chair Rita Holladay said she was concerned changes would affect property values, if more detached dwellings were constructed in Pryse Farm that ruined the attached dwellings’ property values.

The concept plan for Pryse Farm always has included a combination of attached and detached homes.


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