City planners endorse Ooltewah subdivision despite protests

City planners endorse Ooltewah subdivision despite protests

March 12th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

Win Pratt, left, and his father, James Pratt, talk in front of their Stonebrook Neighborhood development in Ooltewah in 2010.

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

City planners approved plans for a new 50-unit subdivision near Savannah Bay in Ooltewah on Monday, despite vehement protests from area residents.

Developer James Pratt proposed the subdivision, which would include single-family homes and sit between Providence Road and Roy Lane.

The houses would fit well with long-term plans for the area, regional planning agency staff members said. But a dozen neighbors argued that the subdivision would overload roads and threaten the area's rural way of life.

"We moved to this area to have a farm, which is fast becoming an endangered and vanishing lifestyle due to overdevelopment," neighbor Tammy Martin said.

She thinks the subdivision would add too much traffic to the neighborhood, increase flooding and reduce the area's peace and quiet.

Mike Price with M.A.P. Engineers agreed that drainage was an issue for the proposed subdivision -- the creek on the back of the property has flooded several times -- but said that Pratt is taking several steps to ensure the proposed development won't make the flooding worse. The plans include a large retention pond that is designed to help minimize flooding.

"We would not do this project if we were not convinced it would have no further impact," Pratt said.

But neighbors weren't convinced. Several long-time residents asked planners to but the brakes on the proposal.

"How much is too much?" neighbor Wayne Rich asked. "The wildlife and the quality of life is deteriorating. That's truth. We've got to have a mix of higher density development and rural areas."

The proposed 25-acre subdivision would have a density of 3.74 units per acre, which is higher than the three units per acre the area's development plan calls for. Planners voted to give Pratt the green light in part because the plan calls for leaving some land undeveloped to compensate.

"The proposed site plan provides for open space, reduces the impact of this development on the existing wetland and will help retain the rural character of the area," the staff recommendation reads.

Planning commission member Chester Bankston cast the only vote against the plan. The proposal will go before the City Council on April 17, and Martin said she intends to keep fighting it.

"Although Mr. Pratt said he will build it up three feet and do it right, I will never give up fighting for our home and our property," she said. "We raised our children here, and we want our grandchildren to be able to enjoy true farm life."