Proposed condo development for Grigsby Chapel discussed

Two residents living along Grigsby Chapel Road made a point of being at the Sept. 5 Town of Farragut Staff/Developer meeting in Town Hall to express their concern about the traffic and how a new 83-unit condominium development could add to the current traffic problem.

The meeting also included discussion about the next phase of Bridgemore subdivision and drawing inspiration for a town center from other area developments, including Northshore Town Center, South Knoxville, Sequoyah Hills and the Avalon development in Atlanta.

Residents Peg Kennedy and Mul Wyman were there to voice their frustration about adding to the already heavy traffic on Grigsby Chapel.

“I feel the property should be developed,” said Kennedy, a Chapel Point resident, before that portion of the meeting got underway. “It’s the right of the person who owns it. But Grigsby Chapel is a cut-through even for people who live in Lenoir City going to Turkey Creek or to get on the Interstate or get away from the school [zones], and we can hardly get out of our neighborhood now. It’s a residential area and so to have townhouses there, or apartments if that’s what he wants to call them, will probably make it even more congested.”

“The new development is off Grigsby Chapel Road between Chapel Point and West Side Unitarian [Universalist Church],” Mark Shipley, Community Development director, said.

“You really need to do a physical inventory of the property itself,” he told developer, Travis Fuller, and engineer, Derek Jones. “There’s a sinkhole … That’s a big comment because you really need to go back to the drawing board … [the development] needs to work well with the land.”

Fuller said developers are having a geotechnical study done to determine if the depressions are sinkholes.

Shipley asked when paperwork could be in order, then said, “You probably at the earliest would be shooting for the October planning commission [meeting].”

About the traffic problem, Shipley said, “Pretty much anything that happens on that property will add something.”

“What’s the policy on alternative access connections?” asked Wyman, a Wyndham Hall resident.

“From my perspective as a planner, the more connectivity the better,” Shipley said.

“On Fretz Road I’ve watched people sit there 10 minutes trying to get out,” Kennedy said.

“I don’t know how you feel about it, Darryl,” Wyman said addressing Town engineer Darryl Smith, “but we’re over here in Wyndham Hall. In the morning, noon and evening peak times, it’s really tough. A school bus comes by at 7:10 [a.m.] and parents park their cars on either side. It’s really dangerous.

“Grigsby Chapel really functions in two ways. It functions as an arterial for the cut-through traffic, but it also functions as a collector,” he added. “There’s only one way in and one way out and that’s because the policy has been up until recently that that’s OK. It’s the cumulative effect.”

“Having another connection to Fretz [Road] I think would be a great thing,” Shipley said.

“As far as the type of development, you know, it’s consistent with what the zoning is and the adjacent property is and the church,” Wyman said after he left the meeting. “It’s going to be townhouses. The problem, the difficulty is the traffic and the access. They need to have access from Fretz Road as the primary. The secondary access could be a right-turn-in and right-turn-out closer to where the church is for emergency vehicles and stuff like that.

“It’s always been a problem because of all the subdivisions that are on Grigsby Chapel Road now, and they only have one way to get in and out of the subdivision,” he added.

“It’s been the policy of the planning commission and, of course, the Town Board to allow development to have only one way in and one way out, but now we’re seeing the cumulative effect of all this. You’ve got cut-through traffic and people trying to get in and out of their subdivision. There’s a conflict there.”

Moving on to discuss the future Town Center, Shipley said he would like to travel around to look at other area developments.

“There’s a lot of this stuff going on in the area,” he said. “We’re really going to have to think about the future of the big box store … I think we’re going to have a real issue. Gander Mountain is the first [to go out of business].”

“Do we have the ability to limit those? Or limit them to a certain area?” Alderman Louise Povlin asked.

“How far west is the multi-use town center?” Alderman Ron Williams asked.

“Kohls,” Povlin said. “It’s a funky line that we’ve drawn … “If we could do underground utilities from Jamestowne to Concord Road, that section alone, what a difference it would make.”

Helping pedestrians cross major roads was another concern, Povlin added.