Chattanooga City Council denies contentious zoning requests

Chattanooga City Council denies contentious zoning requests

May 15th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

Bassam Issa is seen in this file photo.

Bassam Issa is seen in this file photo.

Photo by Lido Vizzutti


Council members also:

• Created an ad-hoc committee, led by Councilman Chip Henderson, to discuss changing city election dates to be in line with county and state elections.

• Unanimously approved a ordinance for a request from developer John Wise to rezone properties at 530 Cherokee Blvd. and 335 Stringer St. into a mixed-use commercial zone.

The Chattanooga City Council unanimously denied a zoning change for a developer who is suing the city for making the same call in 2011.

Council members on Tuesday voted against changing the zoning for 1825 Gunbarrel Road, which developer Bassam Issa is trying to have changed from a zone intended for office buildings so he can build an International House of Pancakes.

The council voted 5-3 against the same request last year, and Issa, who owns A.N.T. Group, filed a lawsuit against the council. In his suit, Issa claims former Councilman Jack Benson violated Tennessee's Open Meetings Act, when he allegedly sent emails to council members before the vote asking them to deny the request. In an amended complaint to the lawsuit filed in February, Issa included emails in which Benson appeared to attack Issa based on his national origin.

The issue is still in Hamilton County Chancery Court, but it is on a 60-day reprieve to allow some possible out-of-court solution.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said he put the item back before the council with additional conditions from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency in hopes of resolving the lawsuit. Ultimately, Hakeem denied the rezoning, along with his fellow council members.

In another heated zoning issue, residents opposing a rezoning request by TDK Construction Co. nearly filled the council chambers.

The request was to rezone four properties in the 2200 block of Murray Lane, and one in the 7600 block of Shallowford Road, from R-1 residential to R-3 residential.

Though the planning commission approved the application for an apartment development, overwhelming opposition from residents concerned with traffic, noise and other impacts from the proposed development ultimately swayed the council. The final vote to deny the request was unanimous -- only after a vote to approve made by Larry Grohn failed 8-1.