Town ways getting better

Reading the farragutpress Opinion page in recent weeks has been enlightening. In the Aug. 26 farragutpress, I shared the Farragut Citizens for Responsible Growth (FCRGD) and Development support for the Planning Commission and their proposed changes to the High- and Medium-Density Land Use Descriptions.

I applauded the Town for conducting this outreach, in particular Mayor (Ron) Williams comments calling for further community involvement. This is something FCRGD has been asking for during the last eleven months.

Readers probably expected a Town leader to discuss the future of the proposed changes, what it means for the Town and the opportunity for citizens to provide input to these changes. Opening the Sept. 2 farragutpress, you saw two Letters to the Editor from Town officials. The main theme of the first article is that the Town leaders are volunteers with good intentions. This is true.

Those in FCRGD have good intentions and seek the same ends — a better Farragut that treats all those coming before the Town fairly. As Mr. (Tom) Hale (Town attorney) affirms the first group’s intentions, he uses derogatory language towards Town residents that question and challenge the Towns’ decisions calling them “sore-losers,” not engaged enough to know what is going on, and implying they are children throwing a fit.

The second article rehashed the Biddle Farm discussion again, mentioning those that provide misinformation on social media. Alderman (Scott) Meyer notes that the “CLUP language does not restrict town center mixed use to only vertical design.”

While that is true of the CLUP, he failed to mention that the Mixed-Use Town Center portion of the CLUP was adopted into the C-1 Zoning Ordinance.

Prior to the January approval of text changes to the C-1 Ordinance, the apartments going in on the Biddle Farm were not allowed. Surely the Alderman knew this fact as he voted in favor of the changes.

The Town has moved in the long-term direction FCRGD was pushing them. Over the last 11 months, FCRGD and I have called for the Town to do one thing; follow the agreements made in 2012. On Biddle Farm, we asked that they follow the significant public outreach process to collaboratively remake the entire Town Center area.

On the Ford property and land north of the old Ingles, I again argued that they should act consistent with the CLUP. While several Town leaders saw me as supporting these apartments, I was simply calling for all developers and landowners to be treated fairly under our plans and ordinances.

I believe one Planning Commissioner recognized this fact and voted in favor of the most recent item. Finally in July, I advised that the Town had failed by not creating a High-Density Land Use Description beyond setting a density requirement for over three years.

After this discussion, the Town placed that topic on the next Staff/Developer Meeting Agenda and held a public workshop before the next Planning Commission meeting.

We embrace these discussions and encourage all citizens to participate in shaping our future.

Michael Wilson,