letters to the editor

Citizens’ comments, concerns ignored by BOMA

The vote by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) Thursday, Jan. 28), where they completely ignored the comments and concerns of the citizens of Farragut, was appalling to say the least.

The 2012 Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) clearly indicated that residents desired a Mixed-Use Town Center where buildings would consist of businesses/shops and the ground floor with any residential units located above those. This was referred to as the “Vertical Mixed-use Plan.”

The CLUP required that any changes in said plan would require “substantial public outreach,” which did not occur — as verified by the fact that so many residents were caught totally unaware that the Town Center concept had changed!

What the BOMA voted on as a “final approval” was a completely different concept referred to as the “Horizontal Mixed-use Plan.” This revised plan is completely different in that it separates the business units from the residential units and created a Town Center, which will now consist of a 300-unit apartment complex and two strip malls, to be built by a developer that they solicited, either directly or by their proxy, the (Farragut) Business Alliance.

The BOMA and town staff were complicit in this deception by first categorizing this major change in concept as “minor” — it was not. Their second deception was trying to say that ANY meeting that might have been conducted in which the Town Center was discussed (19?) constituted the requirement of having conducted “significant public outreach,” a stretch of the imagination to say the least.

There are also statements attributed to them where they reportedly stated that they had not conducted the “significant public outreach” as such was not required due to the change being considered “minor.”

So we must question whether we can ever believe what our “elected officials” ever tell us ever again? An opposition petition was organized on Change.org in which over 1,100 respondents responded negatively to the BOMA plans. Other residents also submitted paper petitions from the rally recently conducted at (Mayor) Ralph McGill Plaza. Over 250 comments were read as part of the Citizen Forum before the Jan. 28 BOMA meeting, which took over 3-1/2 hours just to enter them, some residents complaining that their comments were not read in full, as mine were not.

To further insult our residents, a Powerpoint sheet was conveniently placed on the screen to conceal the webcams of BOMA members for the duration of the readings. So, were they actually listening or did they take that opportunity to just mute their screens and only return at the appropriate time. We may never know!

Regardless, after all the opposition became apparent through submittals, and a major amount of discussion against their plans on the NextDoor social media site, which they do read as most BOMA persons have made comments there, the BOMA continued to aggressively vote in favor of the Horizontal Mixed-Use Plan rather than tabling the vote in order to allow more discussion on the matter.

Farragut citizens, in my opinion, we have been betrayed by those that claim to represent us! The real question is why and should they continue to be allowed to represent us?

Randal Roberts,