published Friday, March 27th, 2009

Ringgold to weigh townhomes rezone plea

by Beverly Carroll
Audio clip

Katrina Dean

Ringgold businessman Jack Babb said he waited years for just the right project for lots at Whittemore Drive and Guyler Street, but protesting neighbors who fear increased traffic could derail the project.

The Ringgold City Council last week deferred a decision on rezoning approximately 10 acres to RTZ, which permits townhouses. They asked Mr. Babb, 82, to produce more information.

“We want to work with you,” Mayor Joe Barger told the dozen residents and Mr. Babb during a public hearing. “We need to know how you are going to do it. We need some kind of layout.”

Realtor Steve Swanson said the property must be rezoned by Wednesday to meet purchase terms with an Alabama developer who plans to build 60 rental townhouses. The developer is applying for a state tax credit, he said.

Council members were concerned because the site is in a flood zone. Mr. Babb’s son, Steve, said the property was evaluated in 2006 and nearly 8 acres are suitable for development.

Floyd Croft lives on Guyler Street, which turns into Whittemore Drive. He said the roads are too narrow for the traffic that would be generated by 60 townhomes. The area is already overcrowded, he said.

“As small as those streets are, they would have to be widened. And that means eminent domain or sidewalks and that would take my property,” Mr. Croft said.

Katrina Dean agreed that Guyler Street can’t handle more traffic. Students from nearby Ringgold High and Middle schools walk on the road and cars speed, she said.

The City Council will hold a called meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to consider Mr. Babb’s zoning request.

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