Inconsistent Town reactions, reader states
I watched the FMPC meeting on March 18 with a particular interest in Items 7 & 8, the property north of Ingles and the Ford property. As the discussion regarding the Ford property was held, I was struck by a few comments made by Town officials.
One discussed the number of residents who stopped (an official) to say they don’t want apartments and how they didn’t want their quiet Town turned into a suburb. These were the same comments made by numerous residents during the Biddle Farm meetings last fall, yet they fell on deaf ears.
Another went through a discussion on the amount of commercial property being proposed and questioning if there was a demand for this much commercial property. Again, this was an issue raised by some regarding the Biddle Farm development. Many cited the large number of vacant commercial properties in Farragut and questioned if this new development was warranted. Again, these comments fell on deaf ears.
The Mayor (Ron Williams) reviewed the Ford property renderings from the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and noted that apartments were not planned for this portion of the Mixed-Use Town Center. Interestingly enough, I made this same argument during the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Biddle Farm rezoning request.
I called upon the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to review the renderings of the Brooklawn Development Site (Biddle Farm) and compare them to the proposed development. In reviewing these renderings, you would see that stand-alone apartments were never called for there either. My point was that this was a significant change to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and should undergo the significant public outreach called for in the Plan.
When this issue was raised regarding Biddle Farm, it fell on deaf ears. Now it is being used as a reason to say the proposed Ford property development is not in line with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
It should be noted that high-density residential was planned across the Mixed-Use Town Center area provided it was in the upper floors (i.e., above the commercial uses). During the Biddle Farm discussions, it was made clear that this form of “vertical” development was no longer viable.
Hence, we needed to approve the Biddle Farm apartments using a horizontal development (i.e., commercial next to residential).
Over the last several months, we have witnessed the Town picking winners and losers with respect to rezoning and development. While one developer was able to get the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and a Zoning Ordinance changed to build his development; another with a known development (Ford property) was specifically targeted by those changes to the Plan.
While I, like other residents, am concerned about the number of high-density residential properties in Farragut, I am more worried about the actions the Town has taken in these cases.
Michael Wilson, Farragut