published Friday, November 18th, 2011

Chattanooga growth plan draws spirited banter


The winning planning team is expected to be selected before year's end, with the initiative to begin early in 2012.


Counties in the planning study:

• Tennessee: Hamilton, Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, Marion

• Georgia: Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray

• Alabama: Jackson, DeKalb


Corinne Allen, Benwood Foundation president; Brian Anderson, Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce CEO; Mike Babb, Whitfield County board of commissioners chairman; Bruz Clark, Lyndhurst Foundation president; Pete Cooper, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga president; Jim Coppinger, Hamilton County mayor; D. Gary Davis, Bradley County mayor; Gary Farlow, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce CEO; Ron Harr, immediate past Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chairman; Beth Jones, Southeast Tennessee Development District executive director; Ron Littlefield, Chattanooga mayor; Tom McCallie, Maclellan Family Foundations representative; Tom Edd Wilson, Chattanooga Chamber CEO

Planners and the public engaged in a spirited, sometimes testy debate Thursday over the 16-county, long-range growth planning effort.

At a meeting of more than 200 people in downtown Chattanooga, three planning groups each seeking to lead the initiative explained what they could bring to the table if selected.

But they also were met by a small but vocal group that expressed worries over issues such as property rights, transparency of the process and an imposition of urban growth boundaries.

"My biggest concern is that Chattanooga is driving this," said Polk County, Tenn., resident Karen Bracken.

Each planning group sought to allay concerns.

C. Gregory Dale, leading the McBride Dale Clarion team, said people should talk to others in places where his firm already has worked.

"We are open, transparent, fair," he said. "We pride ourselves on listening."

Chris Sinclair, of Renaissance Planning Group, said he doesn't see how a proposed 40-year growth plan could affect property rights.

"It's not about whether rights or any choices are taken away from you," he said.

David Rouse, of Wallace Roberts & Todd, said he's committed to an open process, and that property rights won't be impacted without the public's consent.


Each team said at the public meeting that jobs and bolstering the economy are viewed as key to the plan, which could take two to three years to craft after work starts early in 2012.

In addition, Dale said a quality environment and lower taxes could be outcomes for the effort that involves counties in the tri-state area.

"It could result in a more tax-friendly environment," he said.

Sinclair talked about developing a vision for the region, and he added the effort is about jobs as well as the infrastructure to train people and the ability to move around the region.

"It's about jobs, certainly, but it's about the quality of the job," he said.

Rouse said more and better jobs is "a huge issue for the future."

Additionally, he cited the area's natural beauty and the issues of clean air and water.

Bradley County, Tenn., Mayor Gary Davis noted that a regional growth strategy is needed because "dollars cross boundaries."

Walker County, Ga., Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said the region is competing against the world. The plan, she said, would give the area an advantage.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said the effort is a continuation of a process that started in the 1980s when the city undertook a visioning initiative.

"It's about building on our past," he said.

However, June Griffin of Rhea County expressed worries about the initiative. She thought the effort was "a totally controlled situation."

There were also concerns expressed that the planning process could bring about implementing of Agenda 21, which is an action plan of the United Nations related to sustainable development.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce included creation of a 35- to 50-year growth plan in its newest jobs initiative unveiled late last year dubbed "Chattanooga Can Do: Building Tomorrow Today."

The city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County government and area foundations have pledged $3 million for the effort.

Also, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger received the OK from the county commission to try for $2.5 million in federal grant money to help fund the project.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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karenb said...

What Mr. Pare failed to report was WHY Ms. Bracken was concerned with Chattanooga driving the bus for this project. Since the 90's Chattanooga has partnered with an NGO(Non Government Organization) sanctioned by the UN to implement Local Agenda 21.That organization is ICLEI. Entering into a contract with ICLEI is a violation of Art. 1 Sec. 10 of our Constitution and all 10 memberships with ICLEI in the state of TN MUST be ended. WE must DEMAND it (HOW ICLEI WAS CREATED by Joan Veon). Chattanooga was one of the first cities in the US to embrace the policies of Agenda 21. In 1996 Chattanooga was honored at the UN HABITAT II (Human Settlements) conference in Istanbul for its support of these policies. Our elected officials are either totally uninformed or complicit. Make no mistake there are many people that will gain great sums of money and power for this destruction of America. If we don't put a stop to this now we will experience the same thing that is happening in CA (farmers being denied water, roads in disrepair to force people out of their cars, dams being destroyed) or like 1500 farmers in FL that are being forced off their land (google THE FLORIDA STORY) or MD where the Governor is overriding the will of the people and the County Commissioners writing an EO which will deny road repair and city/county services to people living outside the SMART GROWTH boundary. HUD money is financing this and with HUD money comes their rules. No matter what these people promise or what lie they tell you THEY MUST abide by federal requirements that come along with this money. The consensus building sessions we will attend in the future are all rigged and the facilitators well trained in implementing the Delphi Technique of manipulation. They are trained in driving your feedback to their pre-determined outcome. I don't remember anyone asking the voters if they wanted to become regionalized or if we wanted to apply for HUD money (OUR MONEY). Regionalization WILL lead to redistribution of wealth (regional tax base) and it WILL usurp the authority of local government. We will lose our voice just as they have in CA where regions are ruled by non-elected bureaucrats. We do not need federal money, federal agencies or non-elected bureaucrats to tell us how to live. This is all about control. Get away from the TV and start attending School Board, City Council and County Commission meetings. Take 3 hours out of your monthly TV schedule to find out what is happening in your community. They have gotten away with all of this deception because WE ARE NOT INVOLVED. They are counting on us not being in attendance and voicing our opposition. Last night there were a ton of people from the companies, that will gain huge sums of money, in attendance but very few citizens. 16 counties and only a hand full of citizens in the audience. They are counting on your ignorance and your complacency and if you don't change you will cease to be free.

November 18, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.
karenb said...

A LITTLE LESSON ABOUT AGENDA 21 George H. W. Bush signed an agreement with the UN in 1992 to implement Agenda 21 (with no approval from Congress). President Clinton created the Presidents Council for Sustainable Development (again using an EO with no approval by Congress) it is clearly stated by President Clinton the objective of the PCSD is to implement Agenda 21. President Obama (again creating an EO and bypassing Congress) on June 9, 2011 created The White House Rural Council to now take control of the food and water resources found on the rural landscape. The truth and the words are hidden from the public because as J Gary Lawrence stated in the Millenium Papers, Issue 2 they must hide what they are doing by calling it something else; like comprehensive planning or smart growth for fear of citizen backlash. Once people started to catch on they started changing the words and removing reference to Agenda 21. Late summer of 2011 ICLEI USA totally scrubbed their website of all reference to Local Agenda, UN HABITAT and Earth Charter. Why did ICLEI scrub their website?? Because cities and counties all over America have been canceling their membership as it is being disclosed to elected officials (by citizens) that ICLEI is the implementation arm of the UN Agenda 21. In the Biodiversity Assessment (the basis for A21) it clearly states the population of the world must be reduced from 7 billion to 1 billion in order to maintain our current lifestyle. It also clearly states what is unsustainable and must be abolished: property rights, single family homes, irrigation, air conditioning, refrigeration, fences, dams, fisheries, paddocks, large hoofed animals, paved and tarred roads, septic systems, fertilizers, pesticides, golf courses, ski slopes, consumerism, modern agricultural equipment, fossil fuels and the list goes on and on. Can you afford not to pay attention. Can you afford not to research Agenda 21, ICLEI, Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, The Wildlands Project (the plan to take more than 50% of US land and rewild – think about how much of our land is already owned by the government – still think this is not happening) Start with watching You Tube Agenda 21 for Dummies (9 minutes that will change your mind). Go to:,, for more information.

November 18, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
Kathleen said...

"David Rouse, of Wallace Roberts & Todd, said he's committed to an open process, and that property rights won't be impacted without the public's consent." Where is the outrage over this one sentence? Property Rights NEED TO BE PROTECTED! Not trampled whether the public consents or not.

November 18, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.
mscupin said...

Cities, counties, and states should plan for the future, but once that planning begins to come from outside groups there is something wrong. We should have learned from allowing the federal government to get its finger in our schools that we do not want the Feds involved with anything that we can do ourselves. We are capable of making our own plans. We do not need an unaccountable bureaucracy that involves multiple counties across state lines doing this. I would have little problem with our existing elected officials talking to and setting policies with other elected officials, but I do not want and am not willing to take one of the first ‘baby steps’ toward implementing the United Nations Agenda 21 plan. One of the main proposals that come from Agenda 21 is regional governance. The first thing that is needed for regional governance is a regional board. While this step sounds at this point in time very innocuous, so did many of the ideas that have come out of our government over the years. It is only after they have become entrenched that we begin to discover how bad these things are for America.
For those that do not see how dangerous Agenda 21 is I would simply suggest that you begin to educate yourself about this. Go to the United Nations website and read the entire document for yourself. Nearly everything in it would violate our constitution. As you read it you must continue to ask yourself this question, “How do they plan to achieve this goal?” Its very danger is that it is cloaked in environmental issues. The idea being if it is good for the environment then it must be good. This is simply a premise that is untrue. We must learn to really think about things before we allow them to be implemented. We must protect the environment, but we do not need the United Nations telling us how to do it. We simply must look for the unintended consequences and not trust our governmental leaders and those that are attempting to make money from any situation. And you can rest assured these planning firms intend to make big money out of this. Government has shown us that it WILL LEAD US DOWN THE WRONG PATH. JUST LOOK AT HISTORY!

November 18, 2011 at 2:25 p.m.
Truth_B_Known said...


"David Rouse, of Wallace Roberts & Todd, said he's committed to an open process, and that property rights won't be impacted without the public's consent". Good catch on your part!

That statement right there is almost ALL the proof we need that these people are working toward their goal of implementing Agenda 21! You're absolutely right...our constitutional property rights (along with all our other personal rights as citizens) MUST be protected at ALL costs!

..."won't be impacted without the public's consent"????? WHAT??? This is probably one of the issues in their forums where they manipulate the audience into generating THEIR desired outcome! We must watch for these manipulations!

November 18, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.
heneh said...

Chattanooga and Hamilton Co. are members of ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) People should go to their website and see if they can find any connection to Agenda 21 or the UN The By-Laws in ICLEI states members should support the Earth Charter. Both of these links are below and if you do your research you can come to your our opinion.

November 18, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
TallBall said...

"Also, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger received the OK from the county commission to try for $2.5 million in federal grant money to help fund the project."

Just what is the source of that money, HUD? Check it out very carefully for strangling strings. Look at Tuscaloosa, AL and all the restrictions they unwittingly accepted while swallowing the federal money hook after the recent tornadoes.

Follow the money and aggressively insist on seeing who will benefit from this excercise.

With Chattanooga in the lead, how long before we have a "rain tax" on the entire 16 county region?

November 18, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.
Andy1 said...

@Kathleen makes it clear how we all need to pay attention to what they actually say. Words have meaning. This has ICLEI and UN Agenda 21 written all over it!

Folks in the Chattanooga area really need to step up and make their voices heard at these events. And if you doubt the real agenda have a look at this, straight from the horse's mouth:

Manipulation and deception seem to be the way they plan on getting a consensus among us.

November 18, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
cks said...

I looked up Agenda 21 an from reading found several phrases that would cause concerns. I have copied and pasted one small section for your review. As usual on the surface you ask what does that mean. But as you read you conclude they are talking about the effect Human Beings are having on the earth and how to control that effect. Control, as in where they live and what they have. You would think this was right out of a bestselling Sifi book not our government! Please read with an open mind and see if you can pick up on what they are trying to do to us.

A) Assessing the implications of national demographic trends and factors 5.19. The relationships between demographic trends and factors and environmental change and between environmental degradation and the components of demographic change should be analyzed.

5.20. Research should be conducted on how environmental factors interact with socio-economic factors as a cause of migration.

5.21. Vulnerable population groups (such as rural landless workers, ethnic minorities, refugees, migrants, displaced people, women heads of household) whose changes in demographic structure may have specific impacts on sustainable development should be identified.

5.22. An assessment should be made of the implications of the age structure of the population on resource demand and dependency burdens, ranging from educational expenses for the young to health care and support for the elderly, and on household income generation.

5.23. An assessment should also be made of national population carrying capacity in the context of satisfaction of human needs and sustainable development, and special attention should be given to critical resources, such as water and land, and environmental factors, such as ecosystem health and biodiversity.

5.24. The impact of national demographic trends and factors on the traditional livelihoods of indigenous groups and local communities, including changes in traditional land use because of internal population pressures, should be studied.

Please read for yourself about Agenda 21 and become informed

November 18, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
mrh said...


First, in Knoxville, TN a plan is being considered to charge a fee to property owners for rainwater runoff – meaning you pay a tax when it rains. This scheme has been enforced in Houston, TX where the city annually scoops up more than $400,000.

The excuse is that rain water runoff from private property pollutes streams. Rain is natural and this is nothing more than another environmental con to grab more of your hard earned money.

They call it a fee rather than a tax in order to snare non-profit entities like schools and churches. Some churches in South Carolina pay an annual rain runoff fee of as much as $2,600.

Agenda-21 is on the move in Tennessee! Sound good to you in Chattanooga??????? Coming your way . . . if not already in place. (Sound good for TN, AL, GA?)

Second, Maryland Governor Richard O’Malley is forcing what he calls “Plan Maryland” through Executive Action rather than through the state Legislature. That means no votes from representatives of the people.

Plan Maryland will lock away 400,000 acres of Maryland land – blocking any development over the next 20 years. The scheme shifts control of land use from local government to dictates by unelected state bureaucrats. (Sound good for TN, AL, GA?)

Worse, O’Malley’s plan will punish any county that doesn’t comply by withholding state funding. It will also triple sewer “flush” taxes on property tax bills -- a tax on toilet flushes. (Sound good for TN, AL, GA?)

Moreover, he wants to ban most septic tanks – a move that will destroy the ability to live in rural areas. (Sound good for TN, AL, GA?)

Agenda 21 is on the move in Maryland.

November 18, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.

The GREATER CHATTANOOGA REGIONAL GROWTH PLAN INITIATIVE spells out what the meeting was all about and within it are elements of Agenda 21. Anyone who can read and understand English can see the dangers as they are spelled out. Certain words have alternative definitions but a little research will provide clues to what is really being said. Go to the following link and read it for yourself. It is quite long but worth your time. Remember as you read that you, the voting public, had no say in adopting this initiative.

For the purposes of this comment I will highlight a short section found on page 4, last paragraph.

Most recently they jointly led the creation of an SCI planning grant application that earned Preferred Sustainability Status, placing the region in an advantageous position for possible funding in the next round, and other federal grant opportunities. Moreover, the efforts thus far have earned Preferred Sustainability Status for the region which may help to secure future federal grant funding from EPA, HUD and DOT. Respondents to this RFQ are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the planning experience of this region and with the SCI grant criteria, since they may affect the evolution of this planning process.

How many grants of any kind has the government ever awarded that didn't have certain criteria, or rules, attached? Often, those rules are couched in ambiguous language. In this document they are assumed. Assumed by the Consortium that the readers will be either uninformed or uninterested. I may be uninformed but I am highly interested. I wish the question dealing with that aspect had been fully addressed at this meeting. The question was asked but other than a denial, no facts were presented. I would further ask just what Preferred Sustainability Status means. I know but would have appreciated hearing the answer from the ones who will be directing this endeavor. Vague mentions of EPA, HUD, and DOT are suspect also when you learn how closely aligned they are by Executive Order's of past and present administrations with Agenda 21 and it's Sustainable Communities focus.

There are many areas where this GREATER CHATTANOOGA REGIONAL GROWTH PLAN INITIATIVE attempts to mislead. There are many who would like straightforward answers to straightforward questions in subsequent meetings. If there aren't many questions, then one must ask oneself why?

By the way, how many readers were aware of this meeting last night? I think this was mostly an internally advertised meeting to facilitate the imminent naming of the winning consultant firm already chosen by the stakeholders (read insiders or the ones positioned to make fortunes from the decisions made by this growth plan initiative). Americans have long known to 'follow the money' when seeking answers.

November 18, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.

These two sites should help you decipher the Sustainability questions I am sure you have by now.

November 19, 2011 at 12:19 a.m.

Another good reference is found here if you need further encouragement to question firmly the Agenda 21 aspects of this initiative.

November 19, 2011 at 1:42 a.m.
LiberTEA said...

I want the good leaders of this area to think long and hard about the responsibility you have sworn oath to, to protect the rights of the citizens, the very ones that pay taxes that pay you. When you erode those rights by cojoining with private partners who do not answer to "The People" you deliberately erode that relationship which you promised to uphold. The tenants of the Agenda 21 program demand that you erode that relationship with the people who elected you.
When you sleep at night, make sure you have done all you can to protect the thing to which you have Sworn. We are watching and we are looking to make sure those contracts are held up.
Please do not forget the pledge you have made.
It is also time for people to wake up and demand the people we elect do not abandon us by partnering with groups we did not elect. Wake up people and start thinking about things!

November 19, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.
coolstorybro said...

The comments here are really kind of scary. I get that you guys like your suburbs, and those will still exist in the future, but if you believe in democracy, you might want to think about the fact that there are tons of americans who would actually prefer a high-density model. Stopping any kind of regional planning won't make your life better, it'll just make other people's worse.

February 8, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
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