‘Wrong land use,’ ‘plenty of senior space’ among anti re-zone views

Fifteen citizens spoke, both for and against, a rezoning proposal — from Office (O-1), General Single-Family Residential (R-2) and Rural Single-Family Residential (R-1) to Community Service (S-1) — for 10 acres behind Ingles for a three-story Harmony at Farragut senior living facility. This came during a Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Thursday evening, March 9, in an almost full Town Hall boardroom.

(The following anti re-zoning speakers are listed in order of appearance)

• George Cooper of Farragut said he also attended the recent Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting, where Commissioners voted 6-3 in favor of recommending the rezoning to BOMA.

But Cooper said this three-story facility “would set a precedent” negatively affecting the Town. “This was the only area that was not updated, inexplicably, in the Land Use Plan to address community input. … At this point, there is no objective, factual basis for approving this rezoning request.”

• Although “not directly impacted by this request,” Diane Hall of Farragut said such developments make it harder “for families to move to Farragut and build homes. Our Town has fewer and fewer undeveloped parcels of land.

“… It makes perfect sense that the folks who bought homes in (Baldwin Park, about 430 feet north of the proposed development) felt confident that they would part of a much larger community,” she added.

Hall also said a Harmony official who spoke during the FMPC meeting “failed to present any factual data showing the immediate need for this in Farragut. She also failed to show why this is the best location for the facility.”

• Another citizen said she wanted to underline “two important points,” the first of which was “the proposed rezoning request is completely incompatible with the surrounding zoning. While I understand the importance of supporting the senior community with an assisted living center, this is — in both its form and function — nothing more than multi-family housing.”

Her second point, “and most importantly: the numerous community sessions to gain input from the affected residents gave a clear and overwhelming answer to Town staff,” she said. “Residents who reviewed the facts of the project, and who would be most affected, were absolutely opposed to this rezoning application.”

• Pam Stephens of Farragut reminded listeners that the nearby Villages of Farragut senior living community “is a 23-acre facility,” while also pointing out other senior living facilities in Town.

Moreover, “within a 10-mile radius of Farragut there’s at least nine senior living facilities,” she added.

Stephens also touted the “numerous advantages to being able to stay in our own homes as we age. … Roughly, you could spend $4,000 to $7,000 a month for a senior living facility.

“I know from experience that we have an overwhelming, immediate need, developers, for homes that seniors can spend as much of our golden years at as possible …,” she added.

She also pointed out Summit View, a former senior living center in Town, “sits empty.”

• Don Mann of Farragut, making it clear at the beginning he was against the rezoning, said the proposed facility “looks exactly like apartments and has a footprint that’s 50 percent larger than the neighboring S-1-zoned facility (Villages).”

Saying he attended “the last two Planning Commission meetings on this rezoning request,” Mann added, “the overwhelming majority of participants who spoke and wrote in were against it.”

• One resident said he didn’t know of “any documentation” indicating the need for another senior living community in Town. He pointed out “the emotional plea” by Harmony and other development proponents. … “I discovered a different view of need for this facility. I researched supply and demand for the two largest providers in Farragut. … they are not full and they have no plans to expand anytime soon.”

Another such facility would “so dilute the already severely strained labor pool in this area, that every Farragut facility will risk plummeting quality of care.”

While saying FMPC reps were not “bad people,” he added that body “squandered a lot of citizen trust by not listening to the objective facts citizens presented to them.”

• Ed Sharkey of Farragut emphasized the importance of “transparency” in Town government.

“The recommendation by (F)MPC falls into that category of decisions that are not well- founded,” he added. “… In each case, where need was the basis of recommendation, the members ignored the stated will of the community in order to favor (a) perceived need. I’m not aware of any object ground, in the record, to support a finding of need.

“Not one supporter on the (F)MPC referenced an objective criteria that would establish a need for this project.”

Sharkey also said this vote was “the most important land decision that’s faced the (F)MPC in five years.”

Among his departing questions was, “why will that demand not be met by available supply?”

• Jeanne Brykalski of Farragut, who is “definitely is a long-time resident,” said no clear distinction was made among capable senior citizens, such as herself, and less capable senior citizens.

“I didn’t appreciate having a vibrant part of our community” wrongly labeled “and that we can no longer take care of ourselves,” she said.

About supply and demand, “there are senior centers in Farragut and near Farragut that have empty beds,” Brykalski said. “That is something that I already knew because my … daughter works at a senior center.”

She also said Farragut “is mostly a middle-class community,” adding she “couldn’t afford the $4,000 to $7,000” monthly cost mentioned by another rezoning opponent.