‘No more apartments’ is FMPC workshop call

Farragut government looks like it will be shutting the door on future apartments.

Between a public workshop and additional discussion among commissioners during Farragut Municipal Planning Commission’s Thursday, Aug. 19 meeting, consensus seemed to be “no more apartments,” as officials are working to update a portion of the Town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan pertaining to high- and medium-density residential use.

Workshop feedback

Community Development director Mark Shipley led the workshop for around 30 residents along with elected and appointed officials who evaluated Undeveloped Land and Housing Considerations prior to the regular FMPC meeting.

Shipley began by pointing out very few areas in Farragut have yet to be developed, with exceptions including north of Interstate 40/75, in the southwest sector and around Ingles along Kingston Pike.

“The Town is approaching build out,” Shipley said. “Something we have never really looked at is visioning — how you want the undeveloped land to look.”

Among the Town’s current zoning/housing options that might work best in those locations is a “missing middle” component, he explained.

“Side-by-side duplexes, stacked duplexes and triplexes are some we don’t allow currently,” Shipley said.

He also mentioned a new zoning district, a transitional overlay, might help provide for a variety of housing types.

Citizens respond

Citizens comments were mostly positive.

“I’ve made a scene sometimes, saying we don’t want apartment buildings — and I still don’t, but you have done a good job of showing us what we don’t have,” Baldwin Park resident Jon Holztrager said.

“I don’t want apartment buildings,” Chris DiMauro said. “I don’t want something large, looks good in first five years, then what happens? They sell off, and slowly but surely they decline.”

“The Homeowners Associations (I work with), what they care about is no more apartments,” Town Alderman Scott Meyer said. “It’s not ownership or rental. They don’t want 12 units per acre — it needs to be capped at eight. Nobody wants apartments.”

Developer’s view

Michael Patterson, executive vice president of Horne Properties — which is looking to develop the property just north and west of Ingles, and had considered developing former Town Mayor Eddy’s Ford’s 68.31 acres along Kingston Pike earlier this year — also weighed in.

“You know we have presented apartment-type developments in the past, and been turned down,” he said. “We are stepping away for that, and this is the exact type of development we are looking at right now, behind the Ingles.

“I’ve been meeting with staff, commissioners, going to meet with HOAs,” Patterson added. “(We) are going a little slower, will be more receptive to these types of ideas. This is the kind of stuff I have been talking about.”

Commissioners’ views

“After being an advocate in the past, I am ready to throw in the towel on high density designation,” Commissioner Noah Myers said. “I have talked to a lot of folks, and it is absolutely overwhelming how many folks are opposed to apartments.

“There are plenty of apartments,” he added. “The reality is, it’s time. The public has spoken. I am ready to take it out and be done with it.”

“Like Noah, I have gone back and forth on this,” FMPC vice chair Ed St. Clair. “We need to have accessible housing, but with (apartments) at Watt Road and Campbell Station, and the Town Center, I think that will be enough.”

Commission consensus was to direct Shipley to begin drafting language in the ordinance that would either grandfather current high-density projects, or have it be reflected in existing development only.

Shipley also said there would be at least two additional public-input workshops.