Rejecting Knox Growth Plan, Town’s vote is 4-1

In a 4-1 vote, and following more than an hour of discussion, the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen rejected a proposed amendment to the Knox County Growth Policy Plan during its regular Jan. 23 meeting.

BOMA was under the gun to vote on the plan, as it was nearing the end of a 120-day time frame to approve it, or it would automatically be adopted according to state law.

Knox County’s original plan had been approved in 2001 directly as a result of a 1998 Tennessee General Assembly Act. which effectively required each Tennessee county to reach an agreement with all the municipalities within its boundaries to develop a growth policy plan.

“(Knox County’s) plan developed urban growth boundaries for future annexation and land use plan designations for future growth throughout Knox County,” Town administrator David Smoak said.

The plan had not been updated until Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs reconvened the Growth Plan Committee last January. Since that time, it was amended to remove sections 3.2 to 3.6, which primarily dealt with rural growth provisions and instead insert the following amendment:

“Rezonings in the rural area shall be consistent with and controlled by the applicable sector plans as adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Commission and Knox County Commission.”

City of Knoxville and Knox County Commission already had approved the amendment, although 5th District Commissioner John Schoonmaker, who also was present at the Jan. 23 meeting, said the Commission narrowly passed it in a 7-4 vote, and he was among the dissenters.

“You have to accept it, as it, or reject it, with reasons,” Smoak said.

“I want to make an amended motion,” Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said. “I do not want to gut the protection to rural areas.”

After Alderman Ron Pinchok said he would like to see 3.5 reinstated, then amended, allowing for up to 1 to 4 dwelling units per acre, Povlin said, “I don’t think we need to be worried about how dense the county is developing; we need to be worried (how) they are accommodating the traffic on the roads, at least locally, so that we are not seeing the impact of traffic.

“They are not accommodating traffic there, so they are coming through our community, as a path of least resistance. “

“At the end of the day, you are taking out all the protections,” Povlin said later in the meeting, as she addressed Jim Snowden, chief engineer for Knox County Engineering, who was addressing the Board.

“I sit on the (Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization) Board,” Town Mayor Ron Williams said. “Right now, (road plans are on the schedule) out to 2034. In it, we are working on our roads — Concord and a couple more, in our plan. But absent from that plan is anything (regarding) Hardin Valley Road, the Knox County portion of Campbell Station, or Northshore. If you are looking at when that could be funded, it [doesn’t’] look like to me you are going to see anything happen there until after 2034.”

“Bottom line, what is in it for Farragut to adopt this plan?” Alderman Scott Meyer asked.

“More traffic,” Povlin said..

“More traffic, and I can’t support that — I won’t,” Meyer answered. “I just can’t do it. It takes me 15 minutes to get from Fox Run to Starbucks as it is, and why would I adopt a plan that would just bring more traffic into our Town? I just can’t support it.”

“This is a tough one for me,” said Alderman Drew Burnette, who ultimately cast the lone “no” vote. “I want to be very reasonable on this. ...”

“There is nothing wrong with rejecting plan, as proposed,” Town Attorney Tom Hale said. “If what you want to try to accomplish is have something in place, and retain some of these protections for Town of Farragut, it seems to me, those are very reasonable things.

“I would submit to you, if we can’t negotiate something on this with Knox County, and had to go to Nashville for a mediation, I’m not sure sure a mediator wouldn’t look at us and say, well, that’s not so unreasonable.’ I’m not sure we wouldn’t win by asking for things that are not unreasonable.”

Jacobs, who was visiting Wild Wings Café Friday, Jan. 24, during a regular weekly “meet and greet” event, said he was “disappointed” with the vote.

During his weekly update address, Jacobs added, “According to state law, we will convene the Growth Policy Coordinating Committee again to reconsider our recommendations.”

“The upshot here is this action significantly delays updating the county’s General Plan, which will include a master transportation study, and causes more uncertainty in the planning process going forward,” which he estimated could take as long as six months.