published Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Petition opposes sale of park on Lookout Mountain to doctor

Verlenden Park on Lookout Mountain
Verlenden Park on Lookout Mountain
Photo by Tim Omarzu.


A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. today in the auditorium of the Lookout Mountain Elementary School at 321 N. Bragg Ave

A petition being circulated in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., seeks to stop the town from selling a parklike parcel of land it owns near the commercial district to family practitioner Dr. Bill Moore Smith so he can build a new office there.

"We just don't want to see green space destroyed," said petition-circulator Trish Sheffield, who lives near the roughly one-acre property at Scenic Highway and South Watauga Lane that's informally known as Verlenden Park.

Sheffield said more than 80 people have signed the petition. She thinks Smith would do better to move into a vacant, existing building, she said.

Smith has the only physician practice on Lookout Mountain. Town officials proposed selling him the land to make sure he stays, since Smith has said he's squeezed for room in his current leased space on the Georgia side of the upscale residential area.

"We need a medical clinic on Lookout Mountain, either on the Tennessee side or the Georgia side," Mayor Carol Mutter wrote in an e-mail to residents. Noting the opposition to the city parcel's sale, Mutter wrote that other potential sites and properties in the commercial district are being explored as potential doctor's office sites.

The town commission is holding a public hearing at 6 p.m. today in the Lookout Mountain Elementary School auditorium to discuss the issue. No action will be taken.

Town Consultant Dwight Montague urges those who are interested to attend.

"It's all going to be discussed in an open forum," he said.

The only vote the town commission has made on the property has been to ask the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency whether the parcel could be rezoned for commercial use, Montague said.

Smith didn't return calls left Tuesday and Wednesday. David DeVaney, the developer working with Smith to build a new office, declined to comment.

Smith had been eyeing the "town center" proposed at the Lookout Mountain, Ga., City Hall as a potential site for his new office.

Mayor Bill Glascock of Lookout Mountain, Ga., doesn't mind if Smith crosses the border.

"I don't care what side of the mountain [he's] on," Glascock said. "It's certainly no sweat off our back if he goes to the Tennessee side."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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