City Council defers Hixson apartment, commercial rezone vote for two weeks

City Council defers Hixson apartment, commercial rezone vote for two weeks

January 8th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Local Regional News

Opponents of the Hixson development sit wearing green shirts that read "Don't Chop the Hilltop" during Tuesday evening's city council meeting.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

After more than an hour of debate, the Chattanooga City Council today agreed to defer for two weeks a decision to rezone 190 acres for a proposed Hixson apartment and commercial complex.

City Councilwoman Pam Ladd, who voted to defer, said she wants her colleagues to have complete information.

"We want to get this right," she said.

Scenic Land Co. and developer Duane Horton are seeking a rezoning of a 190-acre wooded tract off Highway 153 to build what would be one of the largest mixed-use projects ever raised in the Chattanooga area.

Horton has estimated the $100 million project would spur 2,000 jobs and generate another $2 million in annual taxes.

But, nearby residents and others claim that more retail space isn't needed in Hixson and they've expressed environmental worries.

Joe Conner, an attorney for the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, has said the proposed action on the tract near Boy Scout Road is rezoning "on a promise."

He said the council is faced with a decision to vote on "a speculative zoning application that is not supported by a market feasibility study and does not have confirmed financing or equity funding to establish the proposal as a 'real project.'"

Horton, meanwhile, has said area property values will rise because of the development.

The proposed 280 apartments to be erected under the plan would demand the highest rents in Hixson, and the units could one day be turned into condominiums if market conditions change, he said.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission last month gave its approval to the project.

See Wednesday's Times Free Press for full story.