‘Significant’ Center outreach: mayor

I will start by saying that it is inappropriate to say the Town Center project has not been properly discussed. From what I continue to see in newspaper comments, the concern is that there was a failure to follow the “significant public outreach” requirements. This is where we sharply disagree, so a short history is in order.

In 2012, with public input, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan was adopted along with a Strategic Plan.

In 2017, after adoption of the current Strategic Plan, a discussion was held to formulate a CLUP Steering Committee to look at certain areas on the land use map. The committee was formed with Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission members and citizens. We worked on Watt Road, Outlet Drive, south McFee Road and the Town Center areas.

Changing the form of the mixed-use development is not a major update to the CLUP. The FMPC recommended and BOMA approved a mixed-use center development in an area designated Mixed Use Town Center on the future land use map. This decision is consistent with the CLUP and there is no change to the land use.

The first meeting on the proposed Biddle project was the March 31, 2020, Staff Developer meeting, where the plan for the old Kroger property was reviewed. The April 16, 2020, FMPC meeting allowed for more public input. It was back again at the May 5, 2020 Staff Developer meeting prior to the May 21, 2020, FMPC meeting. Changes were suggested at all meetings.

The June 30, 2020, Staff Developer meeting was the first public review of a conceptual plan design for the Town Center. It came to the July 16, 2020, FMPC meeting for review, and the conceptual plan was conditionally approved.

On July 29, 2020 and Aug. 19, 2020, we held CLUP Steering Committee meetings to discuss potential text amendments to the MUTC land-use description. During the previous Staff Developer meetings, a concern was raised that the MUTC could see more multi-family residences than the community desired. The CLUP steering committee met to focus on the language in the MUTC text to update it and remove the substantial use of multi-family residences in the Town Center and review the remaining language for updates.

At the Aug. 4, 2020, Staff Developer meeting, there was public discussion on the CLUP text amendments associated with the MUTC area and how the developer should proceed with a rezoning request. Multi-Family Residential (R-6) and Open Space Multi-Family Residential Overlay (R-6/OSMFR) were heavily debated. It was decided that Planned Commercial Development was the best zoning to request. During the Aug. 20, 2020, FMPC meeting, it was agreed that that PCD was the appropriate zoning for the proposed MUTC project.

During the Sept. 1, 2020, Staff Developer meeting, there was discussion on text amendments to the PCD zoning district and CLUP. During the Sept. 17, 2020, FMPC meeting, there was a discussion on CLUP updates as they relate to the MUTC with text amendments that were sent to BOMA and were approved.

The October meetings brought the first and second readings of Ordinance 20-20, an ordinance to amend the text of the CLUP as it relates to the MUTC land-use descriptions.

The November and December Staff Developer meetings, as well as the FMPC and BOMA meetings, all had comments on the CLUP zoning map and ordinance amendments. Ordinances 21-01, 21-02 and 21-03 were discussed and approved on first and second readings at January BOMA meetings. The April meeting brought a public hearing and comments on the site plan, and more opportunities for input are to come.

If you look at the number of public meetings, the Town Center has had more public outreach than any other project in the history of Farragut.