‘Much needed,’ FMPC vote among pro re-zone points

Fifteen citizens spoke, both for and against, a rezoning proposal — from Office (O-1), General Single-Family Residential (R-2) and Rural Single-Family Residential (R-1) to Community Service (S-1) — for 10 acres behind Ingles for a three-story Harmony at Farragut senior living facility. This came during a Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Thursday evening, March 9, in an almost full Town Hall boardroom.

(The following pro re-zoning speakers are listed in order of appearance)

• James Ferrell, a U.S. Navy veteran and a Baldwin Park resident, spoke glowingly of Doug Horne, owner of the 10 acres who is a proponent of the zoning change/new development (also owner of Republic Newspapers, Inc., parent company of farragutpress). “Mr. Horne is a good man; he’s a good, patriotic American,” Ferrrell said. “ … I’m all for” Horne bringing Harmony at Farragut to the property in question.

• Michael Wilson of Farragut. also favoring the development/zoning change, said he wanted “to address the consistency of this proposal with our Town ordinances, plans and past Town decisions.

“Many equate this proposal to high-density residential,” he added. “… This district also is intended as a transitional district by providing for low-impact quasi institutional/residential uses that have minimal traffic demands.

“This district is clearly intended to be a transition between commercial/office space and lower density residential neighborhoods. This proposal clearly does that.”

Wilson continued: “… Recently, the changes to the Future Land Use Map for this area were discussed. This parcel was not updated. The Municipal Planning Commissioners did not agree on lowering the density and how that density should be transitioned across this parcel.

“In that meeting, Vice Mayor (Louise) Povlin also raised her concerns regarding form and function.

“What I find interesting is from June to August 2016, Vice Mayor Povlin voted multiple times — three I believe — to approve an almost identical S-1 development approximately 100 yards to the west of this property (now Villages of Farragut senior living community),” he added.

“On Aug. 25, 2016, both Mayor (Ron) Williams and Vice Mayor Povlin voted in favor of the Villages during the second reading. That development actually shares a property line with many residential parcels, including Baldwin Park. … Back then there were no objections to form or function. There was also no compatibility objection from the community.”

Wilson continued: “There is one big difference in the Villages and this proposed development: unlike the Villages, there will be an additional residential development between (the proposed) project and Baldwin Park. That future development provides for the additional density transition and the appropriate protections for the existing neighborhoods called for in the Land Use Plan.”

In total, Wilson said “over a dozen” FMPC and BOMA members covering almost seven years — including Williams and Povlin — have voted in favor of Villages and/or Harmony.

“With these overwhelming support votes, one has to wonder: why are so many objecting today?” he asked. “… Are the current objections really based on compatibility or other development-related factors, or is all this based on a political promise a few years ago?”

• Michael Patterson, executive vice president with Horne Properties, LLC, said he “represents the land owner tonight.”

With the neighboring Villages of Farragut senior living facility about 100 yards west of the proposed new facility, “I would say everyone here thinks (Villages is) a great addition,” he said.

Earlier that day, Patterson said he received “the e-mails that had been sent to all these aldermen: 50 percent more of these e-mails are in favor of this project, much like the room here tonight.”

He said the main point to remember is Harmony would be a “senior healthcare facility for an aging population” in Farragut.

• Ben Mullins, who said he lives “just outside of Farragut” while disclosing he was “an attorney for the property owner here (Horne),” said he and his family — mentioning family members with healthcare/senior living needs — “have not been overly happy with the choices that we have. This type of use, for me as a Knox County citizen, is desperately needed.”

Moreover, from his legal perspective, “There is no basis to deny saying something is incompatible with the neighborhood … There’s S-1 directly there (Village of Farragut),” Mullins said.

“… You can’t base a decision to rezone or not rezone a property on neighborhood opposition alone,” he added. “… I think the evidence presented today is just fear of what could come in the future — not fear of what this is. …”

• Richard Duisen of Farragut gave an especially passionate address in support of the rezoning, saying he has “lived here all of my life … 70 years” while pointing out certain senior members of his family are struggling with health issues.

“I am in need of healthcare,” he said. “… I don’t want to take my father-in-law out of Town to die, and I don’t want to take my wife out of here. … I don’t care how much money’s involved, I want to be able to live here long enough to die.

“… We need healthcare, and the way this world is changing, we can’t get good, quality help in here fast enough,” Duisen added.

• Doug Horne was the last to speak in this forum. “Winn (Bishop, senior vice president for Smith/Packett) showed the analysis on why there is a need for assisted living and memory care,” he said. “(A citizen speaker) was incorrect on that: there is a great need.”

Horne said “the people who make the investments should decide those things” because “they’ve made the analysis and they know there’s another need for assisted living and memory care.”

Pointing to the Harmony, Smith/Packard (builder) and RaganSmith (landscaping architect) officials on hand, Horne said, “These gentlemen are putting $60 million in Farragut … because they made a good analysis. … They haven’t asked for any subsidies from Farragut.”

Horne said he was among those at the meeting who are long-time residents of what has been Town of Farragut since early 1980. “We’ve lived in this community for 65 years,” he said. “My wife (Brenda) Horne and I have owned this property for 41 years. We’re not going to put housing right behind Ingles. The real estate lady said that (would be) a bad move because houses wouldn’t sell very well right behind Ingles.”

Among his Town developments over the years, Horne said, “We built Waverly Court. … The Walmart (originally in Town) we first built; CVS, Ingles, Kohl’s. We’ve done Derby Run and Lanesborough apartments. We built Glen Abbey and Derby Chase. We gave land to Christ Covenant Church down at the end of Kingston Pike — 12 acres, a gift.

“We sold the land (for what is now Mayor) Bob Leonard Park, and we sold it cheap,” he added. “… The Post Office. .... I’d like to say we are a good corporate citizen.”

He thanked FMPC for it’s 6-3 vote in favor of recommending the rezoning to BOMA.

Before finishing, Horne said, “We don’t want to use legal action to get” the development built and operating, unless forced to do so by BOMA rejecting the rezoning, which he later expressed.