Vice mayor challenges some FCRGD beliefs

The goal of the Farragut Citizens for Responsible Growth and Development (FCRGD) citizen group is to “engage Town leadership respectfully with a spirit of collaboration.” The leaders of this group should strive to be accurate when discussing how our local government functions and the constraints of both state laws and the constitution (state and federal) regarding what a local government can and cannot do.

Regarding the idea of electing planning commissioners, according to state law, this is not a possibility.

TCA 13-4-101(a)(1) states the chief legislative body of any municipality may establish a municipal planning commission (MPC). One of the members shall be the mayor, one of the members shall be a member of the chief legislative body selected by that body. All other members shall be appointed by the mayor.

Further, according to social media, it has been contended that the Mixed-Use Town Center (MUTC) portion of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) was adopted into the C-1 zoning ordinance. This is inaccurate. In January 2015, the Board of Mayor and Alderman (BOMA) adopted ordinance 14-22 adopting the MUTC portion of the CLUP. In a separate action, the BOMA adopted ordinance 14-21 to amend the C-1 zoning district to include restrictions for properties zoned C-1 in the MUTC.

Those requirements only apply to property zoned C-1. Property zoned office and residential currently exists in the MUTC to which these restrictions do not apply. Also, there are no limitations that prevent landowners from requesting rezonings to other zoning districts in the MUTC.

FCRGD leadership misinformed folks about the Planned Commercial Development (PCD) zoning district, describing it as “use by right” (meaning once rezoned to PCD a landowner can build whatever is allowable in that zoning district). From this misunderstanding, a faulty assumption was made that up to 1,200 apartments could be built in the town center.

This is not true. A rezoning to PCD requires a development plan (be) approved by FMPC and BOMA. If the landowner wishes to change the approved plan, they must request approval from the FMPC and BOMA. The BOMA did not leave the Town vulnerable to the construction of up to 1,200 multifamily units in the town center.

FCRGD leadership led an effort requesting the BOMA table the vote regarding the Biddle project. This action would have violated the landowner’s constitutionally-protected right to due process. Landowners have the right to exercise their property rights at their discretion; one of those rights is to request a rezoning.

The Town has a duty to provide a fair and timely process through which landowners can exercise their right to request a rezoning. The landowners, through their representative, formally began the rezoning process in June 2020. The Town was obligated to follow well-established procedures for hearing that request.

In 2017, I requested we open the CLUP for public review and amendment. Overall goals of the plan are good, but some areas needed refinement. Mayor Ron Williams, Alderman Ron Pinchok and I along with several citizens have served on the committee to guide the update. We were successful in working with the community to update a few corridors and introduce amendments.

Due to COVID, that work was stalled in March 2020 when the FMPC was prepared to amend the medium density land use designation. We have since restarted the process, approved text amendments last week, so we can prepare for community workshops for the remaining areas of concern on the future land use map.

The CLUP should not be adopted by the BOMA until public review is complete.

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin

Town of Farragut