Sweet Briar residents ‘in a conundrum’ with lots, heirs

Sweet Briar subdivision residents and heirs of a developer face a “conundrum” as they try to avoid future legal action concerning three subdivision lots.

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission heard both sides during its meeting Thursday, Jan. 18.

The matter involves three open lots in Sweet Briar subdivision and who would be responsible for the upkeep of those lots — the heirs of the lots, who own the three lots, or the residents?

“We’re not going to solve it tonight,” Planning Commissioner Noah Myers said. “I don’t think we have enough information and, again, this is so outside our area of expertise and our area of jurisdiction. We’re at some sort of an impasse.

“What I hope is that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a freight train, and you guys can work through something that’s fair and equitable,” he added.

“[The issue] is very complicated, and it’s also put Sweet Briar subdivision Homeowners Association into a very awkward situation,” Carol Christofferson, the HOA’s president, said.

“We’re in a bit of a conundrum,” she added. “We feel that the Town should help us resolve this issue.”

The heirs, want to dissolve their ownership of the lots and sell another lot, Lot 37, which is buildable, said Robin McNabb, attorney representing one of the heirs.

However, the question came up as to the heirs’ responsibility to build a swimming pool and other amenities on Lot 57, which was designated as the common space. Residents said while they want the lots, they cannot afford to keep up those amenities if they are built.

The issue began June 21, 1990, when FMPC granted approval of Unit [Phase] 4 of Sweet Briar subdivision but included four “subject to’s.”

The conditions included a tree planting along Lot 56, a paved parking lot with 32 parking spaces, a swimming pool with a minimum size of 20 by 50 feet and a soccer field. The parking lot, swimming pool and soccer field were to be constructed on Lot 57.

“So, after the initial approval of Phase 4, Claude McSpadden, the developer, proceeded with house construction in that phase, and when he got to the last house lot, which is Lot 37, the staff was reminded the conditions had never been executed,” said Mark Shipley, Community Development director. “At that point, we issued a stop work order on Lot 37. They obtained a building permit but had not started construction.

“The developer still didn’t do anything on Lot 57, and actually submitted another plat for Phase 5.”

On the advice of the Town attorney, then David Rogers, the Town allowed McSpadden to continue with Phase 5. Since the conditions were violated, Rogers said the Town could, however, hold up on issuing the building permits, Shipley said.

McSpadden died a few years ago, and Shipley said the McSpadden heirs want to dispossess themselves of the remaining lots: 37, 57 and 76.

“The two common areas, our intention was, to deed them to the homeowners association,” McNabb said.

Sweet Briar residents, however, have not agreed to the conveyance.

McNabb, whose client is the granddaughter of Dorothy McSpadden, said there was no money to build a pool or a clubhouse.

Concerning Lot 37, which is buildable, she said the other heirs, aside from her client, “are going to try to sell it and are going to possibly mount a legal battle on whether the Planning Commission had the right to impose those regulations or had the right to impose a ‘don’t build’ on the other lot [37] based on the law at that time.”

“The staff would note that the Town would encourage the probate estate and Sweet Briar subdivision homeowners to work on a plan for addressing the ownership and maintenance of the open space lots,” Shipley said.