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Powell Acres residents voice Costco concerns

Richard Cawood, a resident of Powell Acres subdivision, points to the vacant land behind his home, where soon residents will see a retaining wall and Costco. Cawood and other residents of Ida Hertzler Lane asked for concessions from Costco in exchang- Heather Mays/farragutpress
Powell Acres, with only eight homes, might just be Farragut’s smallest subdivision.

But that doesn’t mean they weren’t heard Thursday night, July 22, when subdivision residents appeared before Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, expressing concern with Costco’s plans.

Residents along Powell Acres’s only street, Ida Hertzler Lane, are literally going to be seeing Costco in their backyards.

And a technicality on a site plan put them in a position to negotiate for more protection.

“We understand this was an honest mistake,” Powell Acres spokesman Tom Rosseel — also a former Farragut alderman — said of Costco’s and Schaad Companies’ inadvertent error: including plans for a 50-foot buffer between the development and the subdivision when a 100-foot buffer is required.

“The homeowners will accept this in exchange for bigger detention ponds, landscaping and a keystone retaining wall,” Rosseel said.

“We’re not in any way trying to hold up the development of Costco,” he added.

Original plans for the site included a gabion basket retaining wall, essentially constructed of bags of rocks held in by steel wire. The retaining wall height varies from two feet to 24 feet, with the greatest height being in the northwest corner of the lot.

Residents also asked Costco to install underground stormwater detention basins that would accommodate 200-year floods, rather than those planned, which would have accommodated 100-year floods.

That translates to better run-off and drainage control, a major concern of residents along Ida Hertzler.

Subdivision residents presented FMPC with picture after picture of flooding in their neighborhood, largely stemming from a “wet weather conveyance” that they asked Costco to repair and re-vegetate.

Powell Acres resident Richard Cawood said, “This ditch that I am talking about was a rather placid thing 35 years ago, but there’s been a great deal of development up and down the Pike and we’re still asking the same resource to carry all the water and it just can’t do it.”

Community development director Ruth Hawk said the ditch’s repair would involve “gentle re-working” to allow positive water flow.

Schaad spokesman Chris Ooten said he would be willing to do that, but only if allowed by Tennessee Department of Energy and Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We’ll do what we can do,” he said.

Ooten also agreed to additional landscaping at the top of the retaining wall that would meet buffer strip requirements, in order to protect homeowners’ lines of sight.

Ida Hertzler resident Greg Wayland said, “We’ve come a long way this evening — you’ve alleviated many of my concerns. I think we’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Hawk said Costco would return before FMPC at its August meeting for a rezoning that would reflect the 50-foot buffer rather than the 100-foot buffer.

“Homeowners would not be amenable to rezoning without these concessions,” Rosseel said. The homeowners and the developers are being asked to come to an agreement before a building permit for Costco can be issued.

Powell Acres residents seemed relieved at the positive response from Ooten and Costco representatives, but perhaps were still holding on to a few concerns.

“While we’re pleased with what’s happened here tonight, it’s still not all roses,” Cawood said.

Pam Roach asked Costco spokesmen, “Since our property value is probably going to go down, will we get a discount?”


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