Hixson residents want Chattanooga Village details

Hixson residents want Chattanooga Village details

November 20th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Developer Duane Horton presents his plan March 12 for the shopping and residential development on the north end of Highway 153.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Hixson development

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

WHAT'S NEXT

A rezoning proposal could go before the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission as early as Dec. 10 and the Chattanooga City Council as early as Jan. 8.

Some Hixson residents are seeking more details on a proposed $100 million apartment and commercial project off state Highway 153 and worry the developer is moving too fast.

"There's no reason to rush it," said Ben Patch, who lives near the planned site and is part of a group that wants the developer to withdraw a rezoning request for three months.

But Chattanooga businessman Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Co., said he's continuing to seek community comments to the Chattanooga Village project. Plans are to set up a Facebook page that will address issues people may have with the proposal.

"We're working to look at all the concerns out there," he said.

Horton late last year proposed building up to 280 apartments and 763,000 square feet of commercial space on a 190-acre site near Highway 153 and U.S. Highway 27. But he withdrew a rezoning request earlier this year amid questions.

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

Patch, a member of the Don't Chop the Hilltop group, said he'd like to see a grading plan for the property, for example. But, he understands it could take several months for such a plan to be done.

"People expect hard data, facts," Patch said.

Gregory Vickrey, the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy's executive director, said people have seen just a conceptual plan.

"The devil is always in the details," he said. "What could be placed on the ground could be unlike the colorful drawings he's put before the public."

Horton has said he has made changes which address issues such as stormwater and flooding concerns, traffic and how much space will be devoted to retail stores.

He said the company is taking steps above and beyond federal, state and local requirements in some instances.

Patch, however, said another reason to delay a rezoning decision is that the City Council makeup will change in April after the city elections.

"It makes sense to me that the City Council that votes on this should live with the good or bad," he said. "We'd like to know a lot more."

Meanwhile, Scenic Land Co. has hired Hart Howerton, a large New York firm, to act as the master planning design consultant for the project.

"We appreciate the concerns expressed by our neighbors and have taken steps to answer their questions and incorporate many of their thoughts in our plans," Horton said in a statement. "A 'destination village' containing public gardens, small businesses, and unique eateries is the prospected result."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.