Planners: Defer Chattanooga Village for now

Planners: Defer Chattanooga Village for now

December 6th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Hixson project

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission is slated to hear the rezoning case Monday at 1 p.m. at the County Courthouse.

Chattanooga planners Wednesday called for temporarily deferring a planned $100 million mixed-use project in Hixson, saying the site will play "a critical role" in the area's future.

But the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency staff said the project "could be in keeping" with the community.

The staff also included a list of 25 conditions to the proposal by Chattanooga developer Duane Horton on the 190-acre site off state Highway 153 near Boy Scout Road.

The staff recommended the deferral until it can gain feedback from the Tennessee Department of Transportation on a revised traffic study of the site.

"Over the next 30 days, staff will review the proposed traffic study improvements with TDOT, and the city engineer will determine the appropriate improvements that should be provided in concert with the proposed development phasing," the staff said in a report.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission is slated to hear the rezoning case Monday.

Horton said Wednesday he's not deterred and is looking forward to the next step.

"Whether the project moves forward next week or in the coming days, our strategy will not change," he said in an email. "We will continue to listen, design and implement a plan that will provide the best use of this property both now and in the future."

A neighbor to the proposed project, dubbed Chattanooga Village, said she's "very relieved the planning agency identified a need for more information from the developer."

Ellie Wallis said she's worried a revised traffic study won't look at the broader Highway 153 corridor.

She also said she's troubled that there's no detailed stormwater management plan and is concerned the developer's phasing of the project could leave a large area undeveloped for a long period.

Gregory Vickrey, the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy's executive director, said the recommended deferral is "a good first step."

A second step would be for the planning agency to call a public meeting, he said. Vickrey said he plans to do an analysis of the conditions offered by the staff.

Horton late last year proposed building up to 280 apartments and 763,000 square feet of commercial space. But he withdrew a rezoning request earlier this year amid questions.

Last month, he revised the proposal, including sharply curtailing retail space and offering more offices.

But an opposition group, Don't Chop the Hilltop, has said it wants more hard data and facts from the developer.