Multifamily development not supported

Multifamily development not supported

November 13th, 2013 by Kelsie Bowman in Local Regional News

The proposal for the planned unit development Palisades Bluff is not moving forward, as of the Nov. 7 town of Signal Mountain Planning Commission meeting.

Residents against the PUD proposal for the multifamily housing development on North Palisades Drive showed up in full force at the meeting. Every seat in Town Hall was filled, with many sitting on the floor or standing against the walls, overflowing into the hallway.

The plan for Palisades Bluff was proposed by local Frank Groves and his representative and architect Frank McDonald.

"We feel strongly, with all respect to these two gentlemen, that this is just wrong for our mountain," said Vance Travis, a North Palisades resident and architect who acted as a spokesperson for the residents against the development. "Mr. Groves should be able to develop the property like everyone around and behind it - with single-family units. There is a need perhaps for multifamily housing; it just shouldn't be in our neighborhoods, particularly in our established neighborhoods."

After hearing initial complaints from residents before the meeting took place, McDonald said he revised the original PUD proposal, which includes five buildings with 32 condo units. McDonald explained that he scaled each of the five buildings down in order to better blend with the neighborhood.

"[The five buildings are] not unlike large single-family residences," he said during the meeting.

McDonald added that he wasn't looking for a definitive vote from the Commission that evening; he wanted a nod of approval for the design plans. The majority of Commission members, however, didn't approve of the development, citing its nonconformance with the town's Land Use Plan.

"The Land Use Plan is a document we worked very hard to put together," said Planning Commission Chairman Wayne Williams. "I'm not going to do anything that violates the intent of this Land Use Plan."

According to the Land Use Plan, the North Palisades area is zoned as a low-density residential neighborhood, meant for single-family homes, said Commissioner Melissa Cantrell.

Proposed as a PUD, attached housing could technically be built in such a neighborhood, but the Land Use Plan encourages attached housing to be placed in the interior of a development, surrounded by single-family homes, explained Planning Commissioner and Councilwoman Annette Allen after the meeting.

The proposed PUD also didn't meet various recommendations given by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency after its staff reviewed it. Groves said he wasn't notified of those recommendations until the Monday before the Planning Commission meeting held last Thursday evening.

"Frank, it's a beautiful piece of property but it is the wrong place for this kind of development," said Vice Mayor and Planning Commissioner Susan Robertson. "But I think you can make something else wonderful there."

"We'll have to go back and study and see if we can more closely align ourselves with the rules and regulations," McDonald said after the meeting. "We'll see where it goes from there."

Groves said he doesn't know when he might bring a revised proposal before the Planning Commission.