Ringgold, Ga., just minutes down Interstate 75 from Chattanooga, was among the communities hit hardest by recent tornadoes. Dozens of Ringgold's businesses were destroyed or heavily damaged, as were hundreds of homes.
That raises questions about the process of rebuilding destroyed businesses in downtown Ringgold and near I-75. So the Ringgold City Council has sensibly adopted suggested guidelines for how rebuilt businesses ought to appear. The idea is to create a more uniform, appealing look.
But very importantly, the council made the guidelines voluntary, not mandatory. Obviously, owners of businesses destroyed by tornadoes should not be punished with potentially costly, mandatory appearance guidelines when they rebuild.
At the same time, it's understandable that city officials and business owners alike would want to have the town rebuilt in a pleasing manner. There's nothing wrong with that, so long as the design guidelines are recommendations - not requirements.
As Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger told the Times Free Press: "All we can do is ask. That's the way it ought to be."