Icy reception by FMPC, staff for proposed Horne-Ford Town Center plans

Two proposals from Farragut businessman/developer Doug Horne did not meet with favorable responses during the Thursday, Jan. 21, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meeting.

Not only did feedback from Town staff and several FMPC commissioners not support Horne’s proposals, but also many residential e-mails were submitted opposing the projects.

Both items — requesting rezoning from R-1 (residential) to R-6 (high density multi-family) on 20 acres behind the old Ingles for a senior living multi-family development, and a zoning-map amendment request for former Town Mayor Eddy Ford’s property along Kingston Pike to construct a Town Center project — were on the agenda for discussion purposes only.

Senior living apartments

Horne (who also owns Republic Newspapers, Inc., parent company of farragutpress) is proposing to build senior living apartments and has promised they would be “deed-restricted” as such, and presented an architectural rendering depicting 10 multi-family units along with a line of 12 single-family homes that would serve as a buffer between the apartments and adjoining neighborhoods.

Town Community Development director Mark Shipley noted the property in question currently is zoned for Medium Density Residential, and he said staff “could not support the request for R-6” at this time, as it is “not consistent with the Future Land Use Map.”

Michael Patterson, vice president of Horne Properties, pointed out the property already is abutted on one side by the The Villages of Farragut Senior Living community, where plans include future construction for a memory care facility.

“That entire area is designed for seniors,” said Patterson, who also noted current plans call for its primary entrance/exit to the proposed apartments are on Village Commons Boulevard. A secondary access to the proposed single-family homes would be on Boring Road.

“Senior development communities are (located) all over the Southeast, and the demand is through the roof,” Patterson added.

Surrounding residents were the primary opponents, citing several similar concerns.

“… There will be incompatibility with the Land Use Plan, a lack of large buffers to protect existing neighborhoods, a large disparity between land use designation like high density very close to low density, continuing traffic congestion with no way to resolve it — especially in the Grigsby Chapel/Smith Road corridor, never ending traffic lights on Kingston Pike, crime, school impact. Plenty of apartments are here already; what we really need is smaller single family or townhome/condo, etc.,” an e-mail from resident Gregory Gibson stated.

Patterson responded to the negative comments by noting speeding, contributions to school overcrowding and crime were non-issues in a senior living environment.

“This type of development alleviates 98 percent of those concerns,” he added, repeateing his and Horne’s previous comments that the property would be “deed restricted.”

Horne also spoke to accusations of possible “decreased home values” in nearby neighborhoods. “We built Lanesborough and Derby Run (apartments), and I can’t think of one home value that has decreased because of those developments,” he said.

FMPC Commissioner Noah Myers suggested Horne could consider placing the multi-family community throughout the entire 20-acre property, rather than include the residential homes planned, which could be allowed under its current Medium-Density zoning designation.

Ford property

This 68.31-acre property, owned by former Town Mayor Eddy Ford, has been eyed for a Town Center-type development since the mid- to late- 2000s, even before Farragut developed its CLUP in 2012.

Much of it is zoned C-1 (General Commercial) and O-1 (Office), but Horne is seeking to rezone portions of it to R-6, R-2 and R-4, to allow for multi-family housing and attached town homes.

He has previously shared plans for AGORA, a Town Center development for the property, which would include commercial and retail outbuildings, along with the apartments and townhomes.

Area residents opposed the request include many from Park Place and Glenn Abbey, which abut the Ford property.

“The real rub comes from wanting the R-6,” FMPC vice chair Ed St. Clair said. “We never had a vision of apartments on that narrow property. … It would be a huge disservice to Glenn Abbey and Park Place. “There is no way I would support R-6 right now.”

“I see you have a struggle to support multi-family,” Horne said. “Let us go back and talk to (Ford) about our discussion tonight.”

“It’s not us totally opposed to apartments, but other residents of the Town of Farragut who have some very good arguments,” FMPC chair Rita Holladay said. “We have to ask the questions they want answers to. “

“When the Town was formed in 1980, there were about 6,000 people living in the Farragut area, and we know many opposed the growth to around 22,000 today,” Horne said.  

“So change and growth comes, but many residents don’t want growth in their vicinity,” he added.

“That’s normal, NIMBY (not in my backyard).”