published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Chattanooga Council OKs height guidelines on buildings


• The council approved a resolution to authorize Mayor Andy Berke to execute a lease agreement with Dardenelle Long, executive director of the Chattanooga Zoo, for the use of the Brown Acres golf course barn to keep animals that are consistent with zoning at a rate of $200 a month in rent.

• A resolution to declare the Tubman properties as surplus property for the purpose of economic development was approved by the council. The properties are between the 1900-2000 blocks of Roanoke Avenue, the 1900-2000 blocks of Sholar Avenue and the 1700-1800 blocks of Southern Street.

• Two resolutions to accept grants for the Department of Transportation were also approved. The two grants were for $10,000 each from the Lyndhurst and the Benwood foundations to be used to create 20 new on-street parking spaces at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Chattanooga developers may soon have different building height requirements for commercial developments that neighbor residential properties.

The Chattanooga City Council unanimously approved an ordinance on first reading Tuesday that would amend the current height and landscape buffer requirements for buildings zoned C-3 that are adjacent to residential properties.

The ordinance will be voted on by the council again Tuesday, June 3.

If it’s approved a second time, it would go into effect two weeks later, said City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem.

The ordinance will set up consistent, across-the-board height restrictions for new buildings constructed in commercial zones that abut residential zones. Under the ordinance, new buildings in C-3 zones that share a property line with low-density residential zones (R-1 or R-2), cannot be higher than 35 feet or two-and-a-half stories, whichever is lower.

Radio, television, telephone and microwave towers are exempt from these requirements, according to the ordinance.

Additionally, the ordinance requires a 10-foot-wide landscape buffer in cases where C-3 property neighbors residential zones, which at minimum could be a double row of evergreen shrubs that are at least three feet and under six feet in height.

Councilman Chris Anderson said neighborhood groups in his district were overwhelmingly in favor of the change, although some developers aren’t happy with the 35-foot cap.

The ordinance is designed to simplify zoning code, John Bridger, executive director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, told city council members at a planning session Tuesday afternoon.

Current regulations require different setbacks and height restrictions based on the distance the commercial building sits from the residential property, which forces developers to go through extra red tape.

The new ordinance will also get rid of setback requirements altogether. Setbacks in urban areas can create large, unsightly spaces between buildings, according to planning agency documents.

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at 423-757-6592 or

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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