Letters to the Editor

Praise, criticism on BOMA 3-2 vote against Knox Growth Policy Plan amendments

• There has been much in the news last week (sic) on the three courageous Aldermen from Farragut who stood up for the residents of our Town. Aldermen (Drew) Burnette, (Scott) Meyer and (David) White displayed the courage to vote based on the best interests of Farragut.

This plan has been in the works for well over a year, and it seems all the professionals missed the fact that the draft Knox County Comprehensive Land Use Plan could allow for up to five units per acre in the Rural Living placetype via the PR Planned Residential (2-5) zoning district. You can see that this fact (is) in the Rural Living placetype in Appendix H of the draft Knox County Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan. During her presentation, Vice Mayor (Louise) Povlin even briefly mentioned it as a possibility.

Yet, we’ve been repeatedly told that density in the Rural Areas is limited to two units per acre. To be fair, there is a paragraph that says this; but the preceding paragraph clouds the issue. If this density is supposed to be limited to two units, why did Knox County allow a zoning district that could accommodate up to five units?

Was this an intentional loophole or did the dozens and dozens of professionals simply miss it?

The current Southwest County Sector Plan recommends the rural areas be zoned at one dwelling unit per acre. It does allow for up to three units per acre if the parcel meets specific criteria. What you are being sold is that this plan limits density from three to two units per acre. While that could be true in certain circumstances, what is more accurate is that the current “recommended density” is being doubled.

On top of these density increases, the traffic impact analysis language in the Paragraph 3.5.(d) of the Growth Plan is being stricken. This language requires a traffic impact analysis for rural areas that demonstrates the proposed development will not “unreasonably impair traffic flow along the arterial roads through the adjacent Growth Area.” So, this plan will automatically double density in the rural areas with the possibility of an increase to five units per acre without the requirement for a traffic study to be done.

Over the last four years, the Town of Farragut leaders have lamented that the Choto pass-thru traffic is a large part of our Town’s ongoing traffic concerns. When given the opportunity to include real traffic solutions in the Growth Plan, two of our leaders support striking the language in 3.5.(d); luckily the other three didn’t.

If anything, they should be calling for stronger language that better ties traffic impacts to new development.

If a new development has a significant negative impact on traffic patterns, there should be a plan in place to improve the road or the request should be denied. If this plan was approved, Choto pass-through traffic problems would be exacerbated by doubling the current Recommended Density in Choto.

The PR Planned Residential (2-5) loophole I’ve highlighted is far more concerning. This doesn’t just impact Farragut, but all of the rural area in the county.

These are just two of the objections that should be fixed before this Growth Plan is approved. Thank you, Aldermen Burnette, Meyer and White for your courage to say no and seek improvements to this Growth Plan.

Michael Wilson, Farragut

• There seems to be some confusion about the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s vote to reject Knox County’s proposed amendments to the Growth Policy Plan.  First, the growth plan does not affect growth and development in the Town of Farragut.

Second, this vote does not stop development from occurring; it just keeps the current growth plan and 2003 General Plan in place.  Choto residents have long lamented the lack of responsible planning in their area. Rejecting the growth plan just keeps the same failed plans and policies in place.

Contrary to the flawed analysis offered by FCRGD (Farragut Citizens for Responsible Growth and Development) leadership, the proposed amendments to the growth plan reduced density in the rural areas; business parks and industries were removed as allowable uses in the rural areas, and a minimum collector road width of 18 feet was established and required for residential development in the rural areas.

With Knox County investments focused on infrastructure in the planned growth areas, required road improvements in the rural areas would be on the developer.  The amended Growth Plan provides better protections to the Farragut area than the existing plan.

Knox County is working to replace the 2003 General Plan with a Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan (comprehensive plan).  The most beneficial and constructive aspect of the proposed comprehensive plan is the effort to coordinate land use decisions with planned infrastructure investments. 

Just imagine how much better off Choto would be if land use and transportation decisions were coordinated during the development of Choto.

During the formation of the comprehensive plan, I was able to successfully advocate for Choto and old Concord. Specifically, the intensity of land use of undeveloped property in the Choto and old Concord areas was lowered. 

Also, I was able to bring attention to the highly constrained transportation network in Choto. 

As a result, the Choto peninsula was added to the list of small area plans in the current draft of the comprehensive plan.  A small area study of Choto would be a deep dive study and would have revealed all the inadequacies of the area, not just related to the transportation network, but the inadequate utility infrastructure in the area, as well.

A member of FCRGD leadership who claims to support responsible growth and development, conducted another fearmongering campaign intended to confuse the Farragut area residents.  He won a very short lived battle as Knox County will exercise the terms set forth in the Growth Policy Plan agreement between the Town and County executed in April, 2001. 

This agreement allows either party to declare an impasse and bypass reconsideration by the Coordinating Committee after the rejection of an amendment to the growth plan.

The casualties of FCRGD leadership’s battle are first and foremost the residents of Choto and Concord. The considerations for Choto and Concord have been jeopardized for a broader effort to politicize land use.

The relationship between Knox County and Farragut, and by extension the areas just outside Farragut, has been damaged.  Knox County funds the schools, police protection, the senior center and the Farragut library.  The consequences could be far reaching.

Finally and most importantly, the comprehensive plan and the unified development ordinance were this community’s best opportunity to finally wrest some control away from the developers. 

FCRGD leadership’s efforts can best be characterized as snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Louise Povlin, Vice Mayor of Farragut