Signal to host public hearing for Taft Highway office development

Signal to host public hearing for Taft Highway office development

March 7th, 2018 by Myron Madden in Community Signal Mountain

With this home's owners looking to sell, developers are eyeing property at 1403 Taft Highway for a proposed office complex. The property sits adjacent to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center and Subway. (Staff photo by Myron Madden)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Developers hoping to build office space on the corner of Albert Road and Taft Highway have taken their plans back to the drawing board.

On March 12, the Signal Mountain Town Council will once again have its first reading, as well as a public hearing, for an ordinance to rezone property at 1403 Taft Highway.

If passed on first and second reading, the property will be rezoned from a low-density residential district to an office district.

Noon Development plans to use the land to build a 12,000-square-foot office complex with more than 50 parking lots. The space would likely hold fewer than five tenants, said Noon Development President Bob Elliott.

The zoning request was initially passed on first reading during the council's Feb. 12 session, but after listening to feedback from concerned residents late last month, Elliott asked council members to add most of the residents' suggestions to the ordinance as conditions for the rezoning.

"[This is] exactly the kind of developer that we want," said Councilman Dan Landrum. "One of the things that I heard Bob say was, 'If this goes through — which it may not — I want you guys to point to that as the way the process ought to work.'"

Initially, the four conditions for rezoning listed in the ordinance included a 30-foot buffer to residential lots, a height restriction of one story, and a parking lot restriction of 4.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet.

The new list of conditions retains the initial restrictions while adding eight new terms, such as a tree island for every 10 parking spaces; screening to obstruct dumpsters and mechanical units from view; the use of native, deciduous trees to replace any disturbed during construction; and a requirement that mandates 75 percent of the parking lot's lights be turned off from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Elliott also proposed a few other suggestions received from residential feedback, such as making 30 percent of the building's exterior into windows and incorporating a wood-style residential door, but Town Manager Boyd Veal said it would be up to the town's Design Review Committee to recommend or require those options.

Signal Mountain resident Wendi Morgan applauded Elliott for "doing everything he could to work with the public."

"He is to be highly commended for being concerned about pleasing neighbors and the community with a quality design," she said.

Still, Morgan said the overall concern among citizens is that the Taft Highway property, which sits at the very end of the town's commercial district, is not an area slated for future commercial growth in Signal Mountain's Land Use Plan.

"The people in this town are getting concerned that while our land use plan is only a guide, it is the guide that informs our decisions," she said. "If we're not going to use the land use plan, then who or what is creating the vision for commercial growth along this stretch of highway?"

Morgan said she hopes the town will articulate its vision for future growth and specify where the line of demarcation lies. She also hopes planners will create architectural design standards that specify how a development within the town should look.

The March 12 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. If the ordinance passes first reading, the council will also hold another public hearing at its April 9 town hall meeting before the second reading.

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