City planners approved a proposal to build a 19-home subdivision on almost six acres in North Chattanooga at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission meeting on Monday.
The plan calls for 19 single-family, custom-built homes on a now-vacant lot in the 1000 block of Dallas Road -- just a stone's throw away from the popular Normal Park Museum Magnet School.
Applicant Joseph Ingram, who represented property owner Leslie Fox, said he hopes to have homes up within a year.
"We want to get it built as soon as possible," he said.
The site plan calls for a dog park, children's play area and shared community space in the subdivision, which would connect to Dallas Road with added sidewalks and a new turn lane.
Ingram said homes in 'The Colony at Normal Park' would retail at prices similar to other North Chattanooga homes.
"It's a perfect location," he said. "The connection to the North Shore is great, the school is right there, and with the improvements, like the turn lane, it will be great."
The property has a long history of proposed developments. The site was initially rezoned to single-family residential in 2005. City planners approved plans for subdivisions in 2007, 2011 and 2012, but all of those plans failed to materialize.
The last owner was approved to build 44 homes on a larger nine-acre lot, but foreclosed on the site. And the 5.75 acre lot Fox hopes to build on is tricky because it was mined for soil, which created a 250-foot slope from the edge of the site to the middle.
That's why Ingram is getting special approval -- in the form of a Planned Unit Development -- from the planning commission and Chattanooga City Council. The site is already zoned to allow for single-family homes, but the PUD process lets Ingram avoid building on the slopes while maintaining a similar density.
But some Normal Park neighbors are afraid the planned subdivision will add families to an already crowded area and nearly-full school zone. Neighbor Rhiannon Maynard said she's not sure how the school, which is close to capacity, will make room for the additional students who would move into the new subdivision across the street.
"If there is not room for the families in the existing homes in North Chattanooga, how will there be space for these families from new, $300,000 homes?" she said.
She added that she thinks the developers are wrongly using the school's reputation to attract would-be home buyers.
"It seems so flagrantly usury to make your development contingent on the success of a community school," she said. "That's part of the profit plan, to be in one of the most prestigious schools in the county. And that's slimy, in my book."
Ingram said the development will improve the neighborhood and help to stabilize the lot. Maynard said she's not expecting much from the subdivision.
"It's a difficult spot and the houses are going to be on top of each other -- 19 homes?" she said. "I have a hard time imagining 19 homes on that lot. I hate that it was dug out in the first place to expose and erode the hillside. It's ugly now and I think it'll be ugly later."
When the Regional Planning Commission approved the plan, staff cited the site's density, landscaping, trees, open space, sidewalks and green infrastructure as support for the approval.
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.