Virtue upgrades impact families

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission has approved a preliminary plan of upgrades to Virtue Road, but the issue still has some hurdles ahead before work begins.

Town of Farragut Engineer Darryl Smith explained the proposal to FMPC during its meeting Thursday, May 17, in Town Hall with the help of Jason Elliott of Vaughn-Melton Engineering, which is consulting on the project.

The roadway in question will impact both Willow Creek Golf Course to the west and the backside of Sugarwood Subdivision to the east, and has an estimated cost of $3.175 million, Smith said.

In his report to FMPC, he said the project will include two

12-foot lanes with curb and gutter, a 12-foot multi-use greenway and a new bridge over little Turkey Creek.

Flattening out two “S” curves on the roadway is also part of the plan, which would increase the speed limit allowed on those sections from 25 to 35 mph.

The proposal as it stands will impact nine Sugarwood residents’ property and the golf course to various degrees.

Several of the residents who likely would be impacted by the project expressed displeasure with the plans at the meeting.

Jim Anderson said he believed his family’s property would “take the brunt of the impact” with the road expansion.

He also said expansion of the current pedestrian walkway “would make it right on my fence.”

Anderson also questioned why nine families would be impacted, “rather than just one golf course.”

Smith pointed out that 1,325 feet of road front or .30 acres, will be acquired from the golf course.

“That seemed to be equal on both sides.”

Statistics were pointed out during the meeting that the impact on Anderson’s property would be .017 acres.

Anderson’s neighbor, Ricky Bullock, noted that changing the roadway as planned likely would increase a already present danger factor.

“I would like to help you with some perspective,” Bullock told the Board. “It is behind my house where the speeding is going on.

“It is a death trap … and the route we are going will make it more of a death trap.”

Several other residents expressed opposition to the suggested plans, and just prior to the vote, FMPC chair Rita Holliday suggested officials look at all options.

“Anything to minimize impact to homeowners,” she said.

Smith and the engineers took the meeting’s comments to heart, and shared the next steps for the project several days after the meeting.

“FMPC approved the preliminary plans, with the understanding that our consultant will be ‘tweaking’ the design as the project moves forward,” he said.

“Essentially it’s approval of a concept. While we have narrowed the planned greenway by the Sugarwood properties already, there are likely other ways we can alter the design to further limit the impact to those properties.”

Smith said FMPC “indicated they would like to see the plans after we’ve had a chance to consider the requests made on (May 17). At this point, it is difficult to say whether all the requests can be met, but we’ll bring a more developed plan back to FMPC in the next couple of months.”

He also expanded on the golf course argument, which had been brought up during previous FMPC meetings.

“I think it is fair to say the golf course will be the most heavily impacted property. As [it] has not been subdivided in the past, there has never been a dedicated right-of-way so the total width of the right of way on their side is 18 feet,” Smith said.

“When Sugarwood was developed in the 1980s, the developers dedicated right-of-way 30 feet from the center of Virtue Road. It only makes sense that most of the work will be done on the eastern side of the roadway, as that’s where the Town owns right-of-way,” he added.

“Of course, it’s easy to be confused about the impact to your property when you’ve always considered the right of way to be part of your backyard.”

Virtue Road upgrades are planned in three phases, and will eventually encompass the entire road from Boyd’s Station Road to Kingston Pike.