Davis versus the Town on alleged violations

Citations alleging improperly stored farm equipment and a violation of Farragut’s sign ordinance led Wayne Davis, owner of Farragut Lawn and Tractor, to meet with Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission during that group’s regular Thursday, Oct 15 meeting.

Davis, whose John Deere dealership is located in Farragut and straddles the Knox-Loudon county lines, discussed possible changes to the ordinances he was charged with violating.

Town Community Development Director Mark Shipley reported when Davis’ current building was constructed in 2007, “the Town worked with [him] to develop language in the zoning ordinance that would address the unique display and storage needs for retail outlets that sell general farm implements and lawn care equipment.”

Although the language of the ordinance “was developed in consultation with [Davis], the issue has been, that for some time the applicant has not complied with the adopted requirements,” Shipley’s report stated.

“What is happening out there is that materials are being stored and displayed in areas not designed or approved for that,” he told the FMPC.

Shipley confirmed the business was first sent a violation notice for unapproved equipment storage and display, visible on the front side of the building. When that was not addressed, he was issued two citations to municipal court: one for the zoning ordinance and the other for a violation of the sign ordinance, because a sign affixed to a drivable gator was being transported to and from the front of the building on a regular basis.

“We told him we do have to go by language in place but he can request a text amendment, and that is how we got to this point,” Shipley said.

“They are asking for an amendment, basically allowing them to do what they are doing right now,” Shipley added.

He said staff did not recommend the text changes as presented.

“Mark has laid down a lot of information for you, and has a lot of documentation, but what has not been said is that I’ve been a John Deere dealer in the Town of Farragut for 29 years; as a matter of fact, 29 years today,” said Davis.

He told FMPC he had purchased the property, near his former dealership location, from TOF in 1994. In 2006, “we started improving the building, it’s a very nice facility … and opened for business Jan. 1, 2007 but Farragut staffers would not give us a certificate of occupancy. So, over a period of months we negotiated a compromise, on how to display our equipment.

“In the process … we found we have to move equipment in and out of our showroom. We do that in the mornings and bring it back in at night; you won’t see it [out] at night, only during business hours.”

Davis said, “reinforcement has been totally inconsistent. We want to get some language, to allow us to do our job efficiently … that allows us the flexibility to bring our equipment in and out without causing a problem with the Town.”

“It seems teeth of this ordinance is overreaching,” said Commissioner Noah Myers. ... [But] “That sign, seems to be creating some heartburn.”

“If it is heartburn for everybody, I will take it off tomorrow,” Davis responded.

“I’m opposed to the wording change as is, but maybe Mark could put in some setback [language to make] it not look so cluttered,” said Commissioner Jon Greene.

Shipley said he would work with suggestions made, and said another workshop on the issuse might be needed in the future.