Normal Park rezone may expand to North Shore condos

Normal Park rezone may expand to North Shore condos

November 17th, 2011 by Kevin Hardy in News


What: Hamilton County school board meeting

When: 5 p.m. today; work session at 4 p.m. to discuss a charter school application for a new sixth- through 12th-grade school focused on business and law

Where: Central office, 3074 Hickory Valley Road

Now that Hill City homes will be zoned for Normal Park Museum Magnet School, school board members want to consider the One North Shore condominiums for inclusion, too.

The Hamilton County school board voted 5-4 on Nov. 3 to allow Hill City residents into the Normal Park zone. A previous agreement to include Hill City was never implemented because officials said the school was overcrowded.

Families covet inclusion in Normal Park, a high-performing school that draws from a neighborhood zone and takes magnet students from across the county.

Now, board members Chip Baker and Linda Mosley want to consider rezoning One North Shore, the high-end condominium complex on Manufacturers Road across from the complex that holds Greenlife Grocery, into Normal Park. But other school officials are wary of more expansion of the school's zone.

Baker, who voted against Hill City's inclusion two weeks ago, said Hill City and One North Shore were both excluded from the Normal Park zone around the same time.

"If one's going in, they both should be going in," he said.

Condos in the 2 1/2-year-old One North Shore development range in price from $170,000 to $500,000, said sales agent Margaret Thompson. About half the 200 units are sold, with an additional 20 or so leased, she said.

When One North Shore first opened, it was zoned for Normal Park, a great selling point, Thompson said. Some homeowners bought with the expectation that their children would attend the school.

But last year, the development was rezoned for Brown International Academy downtown near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"It's a positive thing," she said. "We're hoping to be included again."

Karla Riddle, director of innovative programs, oversees magnet schools for the system. She said the district receives numerous requests and petitions from nearby neighborhoods for inclusion in the Normal Park zone. Now that the board has approved Hill City, it could reignite others looking to get into Normal Park, she said.

"It's just reopened the issue," Riddle said. "I don't think we've heard the end of it."

Normal Park Upper School Principal Jill Levine said she opposes any expansion of the school's zone, regardless of which area is in question. Additional students will dampen the diversity that comes from magnet students, she said.

"Basically, my position and the school's position on this is the same as it is for any geographic area that wants to be added to our zone," she said.

Levine said a few One North Shore families attend Normal Park after being grandfathered in. But she worries about the potential influx of students if the whole development were zoned in.

Residents in other neighborhoods surrounding Normal Park have lobbied for zone inclusion for years, Levine said.

"For years, we've gotten petitions and letters," she said.