Farragut is known for many things: excellent schools, beautiful neighborhoods and high development standards are just a few. But none of these attributes were the primary goal of Farragut’s founders – the handful of men and women who bravely stood up to Knox County, the city of Knoxville and even their neighbors – when they set their sights on incorporation in the fall of 1979.
The following history was gleaned from an excellent series of articles in the Farragutpress called Farragut Foundations. I highly recommend it.
No, early residents of West Knox County’s neighborhoods were more concerned about having dry yards than they were about limiting sign height. In the 1970s, developers were throwing up houses so fast that they would sometimes skip permitting or fill in floodplains, and the result was roads and yards that were often underwater. When Knox County Commission turned a deaf ear to complaints about the havoc wreaked by these developers, residents became dissatisfied.
West Knox residents were also concerned about an abundance of commercial zoning on Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, and the threat of annexation by Knoxville. The World’s Fair was coming, and Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree was making a grab for land before the big event. A group of forward-thinking residents banded together to form the Farragut Community Group (FCG) to fight against these threats.
After several months of arguing with the Knox County Commission and Knox Municipal Planning Commission, FCG decided it was time to incorporate. They kept their efforts a secret because they knew a public campaign could trigger an annexation. They filed paperwork for incorporation while Tyree was on vacation.
The fight to incorporate involved lawsuits and door-to-door campaigns as well as personal threats to FCG members. Some residents were against incorporation because of rumors that it would lead to lower property values and higher property taxes. But on Jan. 16, 1980, residents within the proposed town limits voted 3-1 in favor of incorporation, and the town of Farragut was born. The election of the first Board of Mayor and Aldermen was April 1, 1980.
The founders of Farragut had no idea what they were starting 40 years ago when they got fed up with Knoxville and Knox County leaders who put the desires of developers above the desires of residents. The evidence of that battle remains today in the things that set Farragut apart, like attractive businesses, lower signage and pedestrian connectivity. Development will happen – there’s no avoiding it – but it will happen in a thoughtful way that reflects the high standards of this community.
One example of such standards is Farragut’s mixed-use town center (MUTC) Overlay. The overlay was created to encourage development that would be appropriate for a downtown – a walkable network of shops, restaurants, businesses and residences. This year, if all goes as planned, ground will break on new developments in the MUTC. It will take some time, but 2020, the Town’s 40th anniversary, may mark the beginning of Farragut’s downtown – something residents have wanted for a long time.
I am thankful to those who were brave enough to stand up for their rights and demand better for their community. Without them, Farragut might not have the excellent schools, beautiful neighborhoods and high development standards that make us so proud to call this place home.
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.