North Shore neighborhood fights proposed three-story apartment building

North Shore neighborhood fights proposed three-story apartment building

April 25th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

John Wise

Photo by Megan Summers

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A North Shore neighborhood is fighting a developer's plans to build a three-story apartment building on Cherokee Boulevard, and opponents have convinced city planners not to approve the initial plans for the site.

Developer John Wise wants to build a $2 million, 20-unit apartment building at 530 Cherokee Blvd., where one of the state's Driver Service Centers once operated. He said he plans to build the apartments in addition to an office building, creating a mixed-use development.

But Karen Reid, who lives on nearby Stringer Street, presented city planners with a 30-signature petition against the proposed development as planners considered whether to approve Wise's rezoning request earlier this month.

"It doesn't blend in with our neighborhood; it would extend over the height of the homes here," she said. "Like one of our neighbors said, if you've paid over $200,000 for a home, do you want to sit out on your porch and look at apartments? Nobody would."

Several area residents recently appealed to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission to reject the project, arguing that the apartment building would increase traffic in the neighborhood. The streets already fill up when customers from Mike's Hole in the Wall, a bar on Cherokee Boulevard, park in the neighborhood, they said, suggesting that adding apartments would exacerbate the problem.

Planners vetoed the rezoning request in large part because Wise didn't attend the planning commision meeting to answer the neighbors' concerns.

"North Chattanooga is growing in leaps and bounds, so something is probably going to end up being developed there," member Joe Graham said at the meeting. "But if the developer doesn't care enough to show up to explain his development to all of you all and to us, then it should be denied."

Wise said he made a mistake on his calendar and unintentionally missed the meeting. He said he didn't expect neighbors to be against the development.

"I never dreamed -- I would have thought they'd be excited about it," he said. "None of them contacted me to voice any concerns."

He added that he may go back and hold a neighborhood meeting to talk with residents about the issues they have with the plan, which he said includes a parking lot for apartment residents.

But if the neighborhood still doesn't approve, he may not go through with the project.

"If they don't want it, I'll probably just leave it alone," he said. "There are plenty of places to develop."

Although the planning commission voted to deny Wise's rezoning request, the request will be considered by the City Council for final approval or denial on May 14.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.