Committee forms to discuss Hixson development

Committee forms to discuss Hixson development

August 7th, 2013 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

A committee comprised of representatives from the Hixson community was recently formed to discuss the proposed development at Highway 153 and Boy Scout Road.

The Hixson Community Review Committee was formed by Chattanooga City Councilmen Chip Henderson, Jerry Mitchell and Ken Smith, who represent the areas surrounding the proposed development.

Each councilman appointed three members to the committee, which is composed of community leaders such as neighborhood association leaders, business owners and leaders of area organizations.

Henderson said he decided to form the committee after he was informed by Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency Director John Bridger that developer Duane Horton planned to bring the proposed development back before the Planning Commission.

Horton first brought the $100 million, 190-acre development titled Chattanooga Village before the Chattanooga City Council for rezoning approval in May 2012. At that time, it was the Planning Commission's recommendation not to approve the development, mainly due to traffic concerns. The original rezoning proposal was rejected by the City Council in May and again in January of this year.

"There was such a distrust with the whole process last time," said Henderson. "We wanted to take out the distrust by involving the community and asking people to come to the table with their concerns."

The Hixson Community Review Committee held its first meeting at the end of July and made a list of concerns such as traffic, stormwater runoff and the size of the buffer zone surrounding the proposed development.

"We're trying to gather good information in a trustworthy way and let the community have a voice in what happens and facilitate the process," said Henderson. "Next, we'll sit down with the community and meet with the developer and lay out the concerns and give him an opportunity to respond to those concerns."

The committee includes community representatives that support the project as well as those who oppose it, said Henderson.

Committee members are Ellie Wallis, Jerry Jones, Suzanne Keith, Charles Elliott, David Queen, Mary Lou Vaught, Donald Kane and Mike Basket.

Queen, who represents the Friends of Hixson, said he feels the committee will be a successful way for the City Council to gain community feedback.

"We had a lot of good back-and-forth, and we tried to qualify the major talking points," he said.

Kane, a Hixson business owner and board member of the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy and the Hixson Chamber Council, also feels the committee's work is beneficial.

"I think anytime you get a group together to discuss options, it's always beneficial," he said. "I think we all want something that brings value to the community, and I think we have to see how all the elements fit together."

Henderson said he is unsure when the committee's next meeting will be, but he hopes to have it before Horton goes before the Planning Commission again. He said the public is welcome to sit in on the committee's meetings, but only committee members and the developer will be part of the discussion.