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Spa owner told to halt construction
Town staff stops work after issuing plumbing permit

A Farragut business owner is finding herself between a rock and a hard place after the town of Farragut ordered her to stop renovations on a new site for her business, even after she’d received a permit to begin some work from the Town.

Stacey Handel, owner of Garde Bien Spa and Salon, told Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen she recently had purchased a condo in Renaissance | Farragut, with plans to relocate her spa and salon from its current site off Campbell Station Road.

Four days into renovating the Renaissance space — and after receiving a plumbing permit from the Town — Handel was ordered to stop construction.

According to community development director Ruth Hawk, Handel had bought a condo in Renaissance that was zoned for office use, and Farragut’s current ordinances leave Handel literally walking the line as to whether her business fits into a commercial or office district.

“Certain aspects of her business are allowed and certain aspects are not allowed,” Town administrator David Smoak said in an interview after the Board’s meeting.

Additionally, he said, plumbing permits are issued before the use of a space is studied. Once Town staff realized there was a conflict with the use, they issued a stop-work order.

Garde Bien is a medi-spa, and the medical aspects of her business could qualify for office zoning. But normal salon activities, such as cosmetology, could not be placed in an office zone.

“We are a combination,” Handel told the Board Thursday, Sept. 8.

The Board seemed to understand Handel’s plight.

“I question whether it’s right, proper or considerate to penalize Ms. Handel while we correct our faulty ordinance,” Alderman Bob Markli said. It simply wasn’t her fault that she owned a business that didn’t clearly fall in a certain category, he added.

“It wouldn’t be onerous to allow such a thing in an office zone. I don’t see the big deal,” Mayor Ralph McGill said.

Town staff said they were simply following protocol, since allowing Garde Bien to locate in an office zone would mean amending the zoning ordinance so medi-spas were allowed in office space.

“My concern is that the change and the protocol flow through many months,” Handel said.

Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission is set to discuss a text amendment to the zoning ordinance this week, and to vote on any text amendment next month. The Board likely wouldn’t see the change until November, a month that it has only one meeting. A required second reading couldn’t take place until December.

Handel pleaded with the Board to expedite the process.

Smoak said he’d look at options, even special called meetings, but added, “I can’t promise we can do anything besides what we’re doing now.”


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