Hy-Vee back on Town radar

Discussion returned on the possibility of a Hy-Vee grocery store on the Eddy Ford property before Farragut Municipal Planning Commission during its Thursday, May 18, meeting — but there was debate from residents.

“During the Biddle Farms approval, there was a great deal of discussion on an applicant’s right to due process,” resident Michael Wilson said. “This was one reason for not pausing the Biddle Farm process to conduct a significant public outreach that I and many others asked for at the time.

“Like the Biddle Farm situation, Hy-Vee has been discussing and basing its request based on our feedback for several months now,” he added. “Based on the Biddle Farm precedent, it seems the Town should conduct the appropriate hearings to discuss and vote on this current proposal in a timely fashion.”

On the other hand, “In looking at the new proposal, I hope FMPC will continue to support its vision that was initiated decades ago by the Town’s founders, and part of this vision was protecting … residential neighborhoods from inappropriate, incompatible and invasive development,” said Jeanne Brykalski, a representative of Farragut Neighborhood Preservation Partnership.

“I think it would be safe to say that our founders never envisioned the concept of big box stores, much less the impact it could have on the landscape, traffic and neighborhoods in our community or what happens when they close and remain empty and derelict for years, as we’ve seen happen,” she added.

As the Board is hiring a consultant to include public input regarding the Mixed Use Town Center, Wilson said to FMPC, “it might be prudent to discuss the timing of the public outreach process to ensure that Hy-Vee consideration is not unduly influenced by that process.”

However, no action was taken on Hy-Vee’s request, as it was a workshop item.

Hy-Vee Inc. representatives presented a new plan for the 64.34-acre property at 11500 Kingston Pike, asking the Future Land Use Map be amended from Mixed Use Town Center and Medium Density Residential to Commercial and Low-Density Residential.

Developers are planning a smaller footprint for the Hy-Vee store — from 150,000 square feet to 110,000 square feet — as well as including a “downtown” area, a public park and a large residential area, which includes townhomes and single-family lots.

However, “we don’t know the phasing or timeline (of the development), whether it’s a 10-year build-out, 20-year build-out or a 30-year build-out,” said Phillip Hoey, Hy-Vee Group vice president of real estate. “I’m sure the timing would be within 20 years.”

Another change in Hy-Vee’s plan was the application. The previous application was for a straight zoning change.

“What we’re proposing now is Planned Commercial District Zoning, which really gives control back to the community, to staff and to the voting bodies as far as what can go in here once the zoning is changed,” Hoey said.

“Roughly about two-thirds of this parcel is designated as Mixed Use Town Center on the Future Land Use Map,” Town Community Development director Mark Shipley said. “To the south of that, you’ve got a mixture of Medium Density Residential, Open Space and Low Density Residential.”

The applicant’s request would remove the Mixed Use Town Center land use designation from this property, he said, noting Hy-Vee’s initial request was withdrawn at a Nov. 17, 2022, meeting. Now, Shipley said the applicant is asking FMPC to give some feedback on the latest concept.

During the May 2 Staff Developer meeting, the developers were told the staff “wouldn’t be able to support any changes to the Future Land Use Map that relate to the Mixed Use Town Center because, hopefully next month, we’ll be working with a consultant that will be engaging our community specific to the Mixed Use Town Center land use area,” Shipley said. “That’s a several-month process that is scheduled to be completed March 31, 2024.”

“There will be a professional services agreement going before the Board (of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday, May 25) for the consultant that the staff is recommending to lead this effort,” he added.

“Since this is the largest undeveloped tract in the Mixed Use Town Center, it would be premature to make any changes to the Mixed Use Town Center area in general at this time until this community engagement process is able to be completed. Certainly, the applicant is encouraged to be a participant in this process.”

“We don’t have unlimited time or control of the property, so we would be somewhat limited in our ability to participate,” Hoey said. “So, we would appreciate your feedback, as a group, on (whether or not) this a plan, as it stands today, you see merit in.”

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin, also an FMPC member, supported the staff’s request to wait until the public meetings were held on MUTC designation.

“We need feedback,” Commissioner Scott Russ said. “There are still a lot of questions we need to have answered.”