Lookout Mountain considers development

Lookout Mountain considers development

April 17th, 2009 by Mike O'Neal in News

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Residents and elected officials agree that growth and development in the mountaintop community are inevitable.

They also agree that controversy surrounding a proposed planned unit development ordinance, commonly called a PUD, will continue for some time.

"At our last meeting the decision was made to hire Phil Walker, who did our Town Center plan, to review our PUD ordinance, to review our comprehensive plan and review how the two work together," Mayor Tommy Gifford said during the Lookout Mountain City Council meeting Thursday night.

The PUD was drafted as a guide that, if adopted, will allow the Municipal Planning Commission and the city council broad leeway in granting approval for any proposed development.

Opponents to the PUD say it is designed to allow development of Chapelbrow, a mixed-use retirement community proposed on land adjacent Covenant College.

Frank Brock, a former president of the college, is one of Chapelbrow's developers.

Members of Lookout For Smart Growth, an ad hoc organization of residents against the ordinance claim having a PUD on the books could have unexpected - and unwanted - consequences.

Mr. Brock said the PUD would allow an assisted living component at Chapelbrow, something that is not possible with current zoning regulations.

"Without a PUD, there can be no Chapelbrow," he said.

Opponents stress they are not against growth, just against passing an ordinance that allows a project that can affect the entire community forever. About 200 have signed an online petition calling for the city to delay adoption of the PUD until it has been tweaked by professional planners and been subject to more public hearings.

"What Frank (Brock) is attempting to do is wonderful. I think there needs to be a stopping off point between Lookout Mountain and Forest Hills (a cemetery at the foot of the mountain)," said lifelong mountain resident Jimmy Campbell.

After laughter from the audience and council died down, Mr. Campbell continued on a more serious note. "There is not consensus on this issue. I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing," he said. "I think everybody that's worked on it has put their heart in it and thinks they're doing the right thing, but there are too many people that are not happy with this at this time."

The council took no action Thursday, but called a special meeting next Thursday to receive Mr. Walker's technical report concerning the PUD.

"From there the council will decide how and if we go forward," Mr. Gifford said.