The controversial rezoning of a parcel at 617 Cauthen Way that would take it from low-density residential to highway commercial will be voted on by the Signal Mountain Town Council at its next regularly scheduled meeting Monday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m.
The Keith Corporation, which owns the parcel on Cauthen Way as well as the Signal Crossing 1 and 2 shopping centers that abut it and Signal Plaza across the street, plans to build a 30,000-square-foot Food City grocery store behind what is now Signal Crossing 1, which would be demolished.
The vote was originally scheduled for the council's May 14 meeting, but after TKC presented its revised site plan to the body before an overflow crowd, councilors decided they needed more time.
Town Manager Boyd Veal said that before taking a vote, councilors need to decide what conditions need to be added to the rezoning ordinance to minimize the negative impacts the project might have on surrounding property owners, addressing concerns such as noise and light pollution.
They hope to discuss those conditions at their May 25 agenda session. Veal said he does not anticipate a vote to be taken that day, though a special meeting may be called for a first vote before the June 11 meeting.
The Signal Mountain Planning Commission recommended the council deny TKC's rezoning request when it brought its revised site plan before the body on April 5, six months after TKC temporarily withdrew its request. The revised plan calls for the rezoning of 3.66 acres of the 8.25-acre parcel, roughly 45 percent of what TKC had initially requested to be rezoned.
Increased traffic congestion, negative environmental impacts, fear of setting a precedent for the approval of future commercial rezoning requests, and that a "big-box store" will destroy the town's small-town feel are among the concerns town residents have expressed about the rezoning.
"I am vehemently opposed to a big box store of any kind on the mountain, but especially in the midst of our commercial center of town," Susan Speraw wrote in the comments section of an online petition at change.org opposing the rezoning, which had garnered more than 1,500 signatures at press time. "Whether it is Food City as proposed or another grocery chain, a hulking 'cookie cutter' structure and its attendant parking spaces and concrete/asphalt would be a blight on our town and utterly destroy its small town character."
If the rezoning ordinance passes on first reading, a public hearing will be scheduled before a second vote. The hearing, required before an ordinance can pass, must be announced 15 days in advance.
If it doesn't pass on first reading, TKC would need to wait at least a year before bringing another rezoning request before the planning commission unless major changes are made to the site plan, said Veal.