Chattanooga-Hamilton County planners reject home for seniors in Forest Plaza area

Chattanooga-Hamilton County planners reject home for seniors in Forest Plaza area

June 11th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

City planners squashed a request to open a commercial home for the aged in a residential Hixson neighborhood Monday after about 25 people showed up to oppose the request.

Marie and Jeff Fisher asked the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency to grant an exception for one home in the Forest Plaza Neighborhood so they could open a home for as many as eight seniors and three support staff.

Marie Fisher said she'd operated a similar facility in California for 16 years and suggested that because it was a large home on a large lot, the commercial use would not disrupt the community.

"[The neighbors] won't see any difference in this property," Jeff Fisher said. "There won't be any difference between this or if a family with four children moved in."

The pair argued that their senior residents were typically quiet and most no longer drive or own vehicles.

But neighbors disagreed, arguing that using the home to house eight elderly residents would cause increased traffic and noise while clogging up neighborhood parking.

"To allow a special permit for what is essentially a commercial hotel for the aging is not only contrary to the history and tradition of the Forest Plaza Neighborhood, but actually a slap in the face to those who have adhered to the neighborhood's conditions for property ownership for decades," said David Fihn, who spoke for the neighborhood.

The Forest Plaza Neighborhood has been a single-family neighborhood since 1961, the Regional Planning Agency staff report stated.

"The introduction of a commercial operation into a single-family residential area , whose impacts are unclear on the adjacent properties, is generally not in keeping with good land use policy by introducing the potential for additional traffic, parking issues and noise," the report reads.

When planning commission members unanimously voted not to grant the exception, the crowd of opponents applauded.

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