Developer plans 199 homes on Signal Mountain

Developer plans 199 homes on Signal Mountain

December 8th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Jack Kruesi presents a development plan Thursday evening to the Signal Mountain planning commission.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Wild Ridge at Fox Run

Location: 125 acres along Shackleford Road in Signal Mountain just west of Fox Run subdivision

Development: 199 residential lots, including 30 Casita home lots designed for the elderly

Open space: 62.7 acres

Trails: 3.83 miles of nature trails through the development for walking

Sewage: A decentralized wastewater treatment system, combined with sewage storage tanks, to handle sewage on site.

Energy: Each home will include solar panels to meet most electricity demands and electric recharging stations

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

Developer Jack Kruesi is proposing to double the size of his Fox Run development with a new subdivision that will employ innovative sewage disposal, solar power generation and nearly four miles of hiking trails to maintain the natural appeal of Signal Mountain.

"We're trying to blend Old Town and Summertown," Kruesi told the Signal Mountain Planning Commission this week. "We think those communities define what the mountain stood for in the early days when life was simpler and maybe a bit more fun."

The proposed Wild Ridge at Fox Run is designed for 199 homes and eventually could bring more than $75 million of new residential development to the mountain over the next decade.

But Kruesi said he wants to keep half of the 125-acre parcel open and undeveloped to maintain most of the trees on the land and reserve space for nature trails, a wildlife preserve and a decentralized wastewater treatment system.

Kruesi's High Acres Inc. plans to submit a detailed planned unit development to the city of Signal Mountain next week.

The planning commission will consider the plan on Jan. 10 and, if approved by the city and other regulators, road crews could begin cutting roads into the site in April.

"This is a big project with 199 homes, and I think it will likely take 10 years to fully develop," Kruesi said.

But already, the unique subdivision is attracting buyer interest and neighbor support.

During a hearing Thursday night, even rival developer Julian Bell, who owns other undeveloped property on Signal Mountain, praised Kruesi's project. No one spoke in opposition to the development during the public hearing.

Kruesi is working with homebuilders Don and Mike Moon.

He said he expects the houses in Wild Ridge will "probably be priced under $500,000," although he said the project still is being planned and finalized.

The development will include 30 smaller lots for what he said will be Casita home lots designed for elderly residents.

"We think there will be a lot of interest in having homes available in the same development for people from age 22 to 92," Kruesi said.

Three Decades of building

Kruesi bought 450 acres along Shackleford Road in 1975 from an investment group that was hit by the recession and couldn't make payments on the property.

A graduate of Baylor School and Middlebury College, Kruesi used his geography skills to plot a new use for the land.

About half of Kruesi's 1975 purchase has been developed in nine phases of Fox Run.

"When we started in 1982, interest rates jumped to over 20 percent, and it was a tough sell," he recalled. "I thought I would be out of land in five years."

Instead, it has taken Kruesi 30 years to develop and sell the 200 lots in Fox Run even with 25 percent of that property left open.

Unique Sewer System

Wild Ridge is being designed to use a natural sewage disposal system similar to one used in Reliance, Tenn., that uses a series of sewer tanks, pipes, pumps and ultraviolet light to purify sewage and return it to the land.

Engineering Services Inc., a Chattanooga engineering firm, has developed a site plan for the lots, sewage storage tanks and decentralized wastewater treatment system.

Kruesi said he will build the sewer disposal system and turn it over to a local utility, likely the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority, to maintain and operate.

Signal Mountain has a moratorium on any new building of homes that do not have a pre-existing connection to the town's sewer system or the ability to handle a septic tank sewer field.

Kruesi is proposing to use a sewage disposal process that uses sewage tanks similar, but smaller than, septic tank fields at each home.

The effluent then flows into a series of tanks on nearly 10 acres set aside in the subdivision for sewage treatment.

Kruesi said the system is three times more expensive than conventional septic tanks, but requires smaller and shallower drainage fields.

The developer also envisions installing solar panels on each home and expects such units should generate enough power to pay for most of the electricity costs for homeowners.

Each home also will include electric recharging stations for battery-powered cars, and the subdivision will encourage the use of golf carts on the roads within Wild Ridge.

"We want this to be as sustainable of a development as possible," Kruesi said.