Sugarwood sounds off about Virtue

A handful of Sugarwood residents met with several Town of Farragut officials Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discuss planned changes to Virtue Road that will impact their properties.

Town Engineer Darryl Smith, assistant Town Engineer Matt Brazille, Farragut Mayor Ron Williams and Aldermen Ron Pinchok and Drew Burnette met with homeowners Jim Anderson, Jeff Meredith, Kami Darakshani, Rip Creekmore and Ricky Bullock at the corner of Virtue Road and Broadwood Drive to discuss Virtue Road improvements, which have been approved by Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.

The residents had requested the on-site meeting “to help them visualize where certain elements of the project would be constructed in relation to their properties,” Smith stated in an e-mail.

Among the changes, Virtue is to be widened and a roundabout is to be constructed to help alleviate traffic concerns not only for current

residents, but also for those who would be moving into the area when a new development, Brookmere, is completed.

Some of the homeowners’ backyard property will be encroached upon during the upgrades, primarily through utility re-routing, although Smith told the group he had requested Lenoir City Utility Board move power poles to the opposite side of the road, although adding he was unsure if LCUB would agree to the request.

Virtue Road changes have been discussed for several years, as the two-lane road has little to no shoulder room, steeply drops off in many locations and also is considered hazardous due to excessive speeding.

During last week’s informal meeting, which lasted just beyond an hour, both Anderson and Bullock indicated they did not realize the approved plans were final.

“We thought when it was first discussed, it was being referred to as ‘preliminary plans,’ and when the Planning Commission approved those plans, we thought it was the preliminary plan,” he said.

“But there was no vote for a final plan that I know of.”

Smith said the issue really boiled down to semantics, and that approval by FMPC is typically considered approve of all elements within a project.

In an e-mail sent Friday, Nov. 9, Smith further explained the process: “We take preliminary plans to Planning Commission for their review and approval. Once Planning Commission has approved those plans, we move forward to finalize plans and begin acquisition of right-of-way and easements.  After acquisition, we move into the construction phase.”

At the Nov. 7 meeting, he told the homeowners, “If there are changes you would to make or see made, you need to talk to these guys,” he said, pointing to Williams, Pinchok and Burnette.

Bullock said he felt they were “getting some defensiveness from you (Smith), but you are giving us everything we have asked for.”

Bullock went on to say the main concern for many homeowners is the safety of the roadway itself.

“It is a safety thing,” he said. “This (pointing to the area of Virtue Road not far from where they were meeting) is the drag strip. All of us still don’t understand why you can’t do anything for the safety of the road.”

“I think the biggest problem we have had was that the surface of the road had become polished, and quite slick when it became wet,” Smith said, later noting it is possible for a “friction course” to be used when the road is repaved.

He told the homeowners if they have any other questions, he or his assistant would be available for further discussion.

As the group disbursed, Anderson told Town officials he “appreciated your patience, and all your effort and time” exercised during the meeting.