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Old Stage widening reaction mixed

Anita White, who rents her Old Stage Road home, and one outspoken home-owning couple share a mutual cynicism about the widening of Old Stage and how it will affect their residential enjoyment, convenience and safety.

Though both families dread losing front yard property — used to create a pair of 12-foot lanes with sidewalks on both sides and a pair of bike lanes from Johnson Corner Road roughly 2,500 feet south to the Loudon County line — they share different philosophies on mistakes they feel the Town has made.

Saying about “three-fourths” of her front yard would be condemned, White added her family “spends most of our time on the front porch and in the front yard,” where her children “love to play kickball and softball.”

Effects of the $4 million project, tentatively set to begin in late summer 2012 according to Town engineer Darryl Smith, “will considerably limit how much we do in the front of our home,” White said. “Our backyard slopes so much,” which would limit its use.

Equally weighed, White added, is her “concern for safety,” saying she fears that widening Old Stage will encourage an even greater level of speeding.

“It’s going to make this road a raceway,” added White, whose family has lived at their current home five years.

White added she’s much less concerned about adding the bicycle lanes and two sidewalks — though not happy these additions cause more of her property to be condemned.

The Old Stage Road home-owning couple, who wish to remain anonymous, said they are strongly in favor of having the road widened.

But the couple said they were blindsided by information learned during a May 2011 meeting with Town officials: first learning that four-foot bike lanes, five-foot sidewalks and three-foot grass buffers were included on both sides as part of an already Town-approved widening plan.

“I think the bicycle lanes are unnecessary,” the husband said. “I think the sidewalks are unnecessarily large.”

Though informed in 2006 of the Old Stage widening/Watt Road extension plans, the couple said that plan “did not include bike lanes” or grass strips, adding sidewalks weren’t included for both sides of the road.

However, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission “approved the current Old Stage alignment and typical section, including bike lanes and sidewalk, at the June 15, 2006 meeting,” Smith said. “There was a great deal of discussion, with a lot of input from the property owners. … I do recall that Sherman Patterson, president of the Steeplechase Homeowners’ Association, spoke at length.”

The husband said he was offered $8,000 to buy roughly 10 feet across his front yard, but the amount isn’t nearly enough compensation for terrain changes.

“The slope easement’s going to vary, but in some places almost 50 feet into our yard,” he said. “They’ll be taking some [of our] trees out 50 feet from the street.

“We’ll have an entirely new driveway put in,” he added.

Also affected is the couple’s front yard underground irrigation system, costing roughly $2,400 to rework, the husband said.

“I think this will have an adverse effect on our property value,” he added.

The couple, who have lived in their current home since August 1999, said they won’t settle pending further advice from their attorney in January.

With the exception of one resident, according to Smith, “It’s been a pretty smooth process so far,” adding he had “signed [right-of-way aquisition] agreements from probably two-thirds” of the 24 homeowners and property owners affected.”

Smith said most offers to homeowners “are under $10,000.”

If started late next summer, construction could be completed by fall 2013 according to Smith.


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