A proposal to build an environmentally friendly so-called “commercial village” in the swelling East Brainerd-Ooltewah area is stirring concerns of urban sprawl among residents.
“We’re not ready for a little city to move in on us,” said retiree Richard T. Harris on Monday, adding he has lived near the site for about 70 years.
Duane Horton, owner of Oakbrook Land Holdings LLC, wants to build a 14-acre commercial project with a bank, child care center, restaurant, church and other tenants.
The Village of Oakbrook Town Center would be at the 9800 block of East Brainerd Road, close to the intersection with Ooltewah-Ringgold roads, the new Super Bi-Lo and a future high school.
“This is a unique and new development for here, but it’s been done all over the nation,” said Mr. Horton, owner and vice president of GenTech Construction.
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday recommended denying rezoning to allow the project, but the Hamilton County Commission will consider the case on April 16.
Mr. Horton said he would continue to press for his project at the county commission meeting. He said the planning panel did not have the authority to recommend denying rezoning, saying the commission did not have a land-use plan for the area to control development.
The project would open in late spring or summer 2009 if the county commission approves it, Mr. Horton said.
Several East Brainerd residents, including Mr. Harris, spoke against the Village of Oakbrook Town Center, saying the project is not next to existing commercial projects like Super Bi-Lo and thus would not fit in with surrounding homes.
Residents and planning commissioners also questioned whether East Brainerd Road and utility infrastructure were adequate to support the development. East Brainerd Road is scheduled to be widened next year, according to planners, but to the west of the proposed project.
The proposed commercial development would be part of a 143-acre project that includes residential uses, Mr. Horton said, including his own residence. He would either build garden homes — detached houses with small yards and low maintenance — or estate homes with between two to 10 acres.
He initially wanted to include the commercial and residential proposals together to the planning commission, he said, but the planners asked him to submit the commercial component first.
The commercial village would support both his and surrounding neighborhoods with needed businesses, Mr. Horton said. He said he wants to build the project using standards from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system.
LEED calls for planned growth with protection of natural resources, and the project would protect views of White Oak Mountain, he said.