Strong exchanges as candidate again cites ‘code’ violation

For a second time in less than one month, a Town of Farragut alderman candidate has challenged Town leaders, claiming “the code,” or an ordinance, has been violated.

Unhappy that Town administrator David Smoak passed on a recent decision concerning allowing political signs in Farragut rights-of-way to Board of Mayor and Alderman — where the request died due to lack of a motion after Smoak recommended against granting the request — Ward II (South) alderman candidate David White turned his attention to ballfield lighting.

Six residents representing Farragut Neighborhood Preservation Partnership asked that the Town’s lighting ordinance be amended to make it more restrictive in relation to ballfield lights, which came during a Tuesday, July 5, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission Staff/Developer meeting.

Community Development director Mark Shipley introduced discussion on an amendment to the lighting ordinance that would restrict ballfield lights to public facilities.

“We just want to protect our neighborhood,” said Jeanne Brykawski, a Farragut resident living in Belleaire subdivision.

The item will be on the FMPC agenda for its next meeting Thursday, July 21.

“This (amendment) would actually make (the ordinance) more clear that ballfield lights outside of public properties would not be permitted,” Shipley said.

“I don’t think there’s any issue with this (residents’) request,” he added.” I think it really kind of helps make it clear.”

White then entered into the discussion.

“Instead of public facilities, why didn’t you use ‘property owned by the Town?” he asked.

“Because of Knox County (Board of Education),” Shipley answered. “As you know, Knox County has its own ballfield lights (regulations).

“We don’t have any control or regulation over the kind of lights they use over there,” he added. “We can suggest and recommend they do certain things, but ultimately they’re kind of on their own.”

“So, if you guys are wanting to build a ballfield somewhere, you have a right to put (the ballfield lights) up?” White asked. “Is that what you’re actually changing this for, because the other ordinance covers that already, where you can only have taller lights in an expansion of a project … this actually gives you a right to (install ballfield lights) without being challenged.”

Shipley explained the ordinance references parking lot lights on private property, while the request is referring to ballfield lights, which are taller than parking lot lights.

“When we add lighting to our parks, especially ballfield lights, we always are very careful about trying to use the latest technology.”

“I understand that, Mark, but you violated the code,” White said.

”I don’t know about that,” Shipley replied.

“That’s what (the ordinance) says,” White said. “You can’t have, anywhere in the Town of Farragut, over 28-foot tall unless you’re doing an expansion to an existing project. If the existing project has taller than 28-foot lights, then you can go to the (Farragut Municipal) Planning Commission and ask for permission to match those lights. You all don’t match anything, you just put them up … the code’s been violated three times.”

“We can agree to disagree on that,” Shipley said. “I think what they’re requesting would make it clear where ballfield lights can be used and who can use them. To me, that’s a good thing.”

Povlin’s thoughts, White’s answers

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin, who sits on FMPC, said the proposed amendment would be a discussion-only item when it goes to FMPC.

“So, you won’t have any proposed language,” she added.

“No, but it should be really simple,” Shipley said.

Povlin asked him to add a definition of what ballfield lighting is.

“I would like to do that because technology changes, and for whatever reason, they may come up with technology that can bring lights closer to the ground and still light the field,” she said. “The intention here is to regulate sport lighting, so you’re not having noise at 10, 11 at night.”

“Well, you’re clouding the issue because the ordinance says pole lights, and pole lights cover ballfield lights,” White said.

“That’s why we need to define ballfield lights,” Povlin said.

“The current ordinance covers all lights … What you’re actually doing now is butt-covering because you violated the code three times by putting in taller poles,” White said.

“The ordinance needs to stay the same,” he added. “I told you people what they were going to do. They want to change the ordinance because it gives them more right to put lights somewhere.”

White, citizen exchange thoughts

“We were the ones who wrote up (the requested amendment) — six of us, the citizens,” Brykalski said, referring to FMPC Commissioners.

“Well, that was your problem,” White said. “… There’s no sense to change the ordinance. It covers every pole light in the Town.”

“And, that’s your opinion. You’re entitled to it,” Brykalski said.

“It’s no opinion. I can read,” White retorted.

“OK, David, just calm down,” Brykalski said.

“Read the code. Read it carefully,” White said.

“David, just chill,” Brykalski said.