Hale doubles down

For the second time in as many weeks, Farragut’s Town Attorney Tom Hale responded firmly during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s Oct. 8 regular meeting that “nothing illegal” had been taking place by members of BOMA and Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, despite social media and e-mail claims to the contrary, concerning actions involving a future Town Center.

Several residents continue allegations, sometimes daily and primarily on the social media platform Nextdoor, stating their opinions of “violations” and “illegal” activities and calling on residents to bombard elected officials with e-mails.

Last week BOMA received 50, which were read into the minutes of the Oct. 8 meeting, many of which had been cut and pasted from the original social media posts.

Brixworth resident Mike Mitchell has been one of the most vocal during the last few months, as he continues to accuse both BOMA and the FMPC of violating a variety of laws, including the Tennessee Open Meetings Act.

His e-mail submitted for the Oct 8 meeting concluded, “I have warned the Town of Farragut in writing three times they are violating the Tennessee Open Meetings law. This may involve a court case against the town if you refuse to stop breaking state law.”

Hale, who had addressed the concerns at the Sept. 24 BOMA meeting, said, “Let me start by saying for those of you were on the last meeting where we had this discussion, about there being some illegal activity or failure to follow the law at the Planning Commission level — I addressed that at the time, and have reviewed the communications that have come in recently, where citizens expressed issues about the legality of the procedure.

“What happened at FMPC that still seems to be a big issue is the accusation of violating the Open Meetings Act. A violation is where decisions are made by governing bodies in secret, without being in public,” he added. “The Planning Commission gave proper notice of their meeting, discussed the matter in public and voted. That is what the open meetings act is supposed to deal with — it has nothing to do with whether people can voice their opinions or the sequence of when they can provide input — there is no legal requirement for that to be done.

“The Planning Commission’s resolution approving these amendments was done in a public meeting.”

In conclusion, “I’m comfortable that the way the Planning Commission and BOMA has handled this issue is completely in the bounds of the law,” Hale said.

“To the extent that people still believe that is not true, I ask that they have the lawyer who is advising them to call me and explain to me why they think the way this was handled was unlawful, based on the law,” he added. “I am not going to get into a debate with a non-lawyer about how you interpret the statute, but will be happy to talk to their representative, if they have one, who thinks I am wrong about that.

“... I hope we can get out of the name calling and accusations, and spend time studying what is being proposed.”

As of Sunday, Oct. 11, Mitchell said he and others are exploring the option of filing a lawsuit with a Knox County Chancellor for a ruling, but are waiting to hear from Mayor Ron Williams and Hale.