Farragut’s Municipal Planning Commission unanimously approved an updated site plan for the Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms Project Thursday, May 20, during its first in-person meeting in more than a year — but a homeowners association rep brought some concerns.
Commissioners reviewed architectural renderings of the planned Aldi grocery store anchor tenant, along with elevation updates for the multi-family portion of the project provided by project developer Budd Cullom of CHM LLC.
Meanwhile, Joe LaCroix addressed FMPC as a representative of Concord Hills Homeowners Association and referred to a petition “floating around on social media asking for deed restrictions and a performance bond for potential flooding concerns” concerning the Biddle project.
While LaCroix said he personally didn’t have any questions, he read a statement, which he said was authorized by the HOA, asking about the project’s hydrology study and questioning if the Town can require a performance bond or deed restrictions “for the protection of Town residents.”
“As far as the hydrologic study, they are working to finalize that, and it should be ready to submit in the next couple of weeks,” Community Development director Mark Shipley said. “One of the conditions of this approval tonight is that any work conducted at this time has to follow current flood insurance rate map requirements.
“The site plan has a 123-page drainage report,” he added. “The Town engineer (Darryl Smith) is OK with drainage calculations that have been submitted. (The developer is) currently addressing errors in current flood insurance rate maps we have and are correcting those and are submitting them, which should result in improvements.”
“We have Farragut Municipal Flood Damage Prevention Regulations, and we are required to follow at least FEMA’s basic standard if we want to maintain our eligibility in the national flood insurance program,” Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin, also a commissioner, said.
“Some of our (regulations) are more stringent,” she added.
“As far as deed restrictions, if the applicant wants to restrict what happens on the property now and in the future, he could move forward to having a conversation with the Town,” Shipley said. “We could do that and work with Town attorney to develop some language to address that.”
Aldi, other Town Center plans
Quite a bit of discussion concerned composition of the Aldi Grocery Stores exterior, with Commissioner Noah Myers noting plans “showed a huge improvement” but expressed concerns about potential overuse of concrete masonry units.
“This will set the tone for our Town Center,” Myers said.
Scott Martsolf, director of real estate for Aldi’s, also attended and noted the use of split-face block to break up the look of the vertical brick walls.
“Our goal, based on the Town recommendations, is to try to break it up by adding 3-D dimension with bricks, raised parapet walls and rooftop screening,” he said. “A lot of effort has been made to make this a one-of-a-kind project.”
After a bit more discussion Myers suggested maybe some false windows could be incorporated, as has been done on the exterior of the Starbucks at the corner of South Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike.
“We understand we are holding you to higher standard,” Myers said. “We are really close. I’m just one guy on the Planning Commission, but I suspect it will be the best looking Aldi in the Southeast.”
After understanding two portions of the renderings were placeholders for two yet-to-be named separate commercial ventures, the plans were better received.
Myers also suggested the project’s multi-acre greenspace, currently referred to as The Village Green, should possibly be renamed. While Cullom will be building it, the Town will be maintaining the property.
“Maybe you could have a snazzy name you come up with, so as not to confuse it with the (nearby neighborhood),” Myers said.
Cullom said he “wanted to go on record that I am soliciting ideas” to name the park-like area.
Regarding the multi-family elevations shared, “They tried to break the buildings up into three sections, as you might see in a typical vertical mixed use development,” Shipley said. “It doesn’t look like multi-family buildings — it looks like it could pass for mixed use.”
“It all looks really good to me,” said Vice Mayor and FMPC commissioner Louise Povlin.