South Pittsburg board rejects rezoning ordinance that would favor low-income housing development

Sammy Burrows

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - The South Pittsburg City Commission has rejected a rezoning ordinance that likely would have led to the construction of a low-income housing development.

At its November meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept the South Pittsburg planning commission's recommendation to deny the rezoning request from R-2 to R-3 by an unidentified developer from Knoxville.

photo Sammy Burrows

City Administrator Sammy Burrows said the developer approached him recently "looking for a place to build an apartment complex."

The company purchased an option on 10 acres near Jordan Landing, he said, and asked for the property to be rezoned.

"These apartments are not public housing, and they're not [Housing Choice voucher housing]," Burrows said. "The residents have to make 60 percent below the [Marion County] median income. They are subsidized by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. There's some special monies that [THDA] has had that they're trying to use up. So, it would be subsidized."

Tenants would have to provide an income tax return, get a credit check and a background check, he said.

City Attorney Billy Gouger said the THDA program is "driving" the potential development and rezoning request.

"This is not the only potential developer that's looked at sites in the county because of the THDA program," he said. "They've looked at sites in Jasper. They've looked at some sites in unincorporated areas of the county and other places."

Jane Pelham, a South Pittsburg planning commission member, said that board discussed the issue at its meeting last week and voted to deny the request.

"I realize we are in need of that type housing," she said. "But the only access to that development is Dixie Avenue and Hamilton Avenue, which are very narrow roads."

Pelham said she spoke with several residents along Dixie Avenue about the potential construction.

"They felt that to add another 60-plus vehicles into that one small road and on Dixie Avenue [was too much]," she said. "They said it's already noisy from the traffic in and out of Jordan Landing, and they just did not want that traffic."

Others expressed concern for children's safety from the increased traffic flow.

Pelham said residents told her that if a developer were willing to construct an outlet road directly connected to South Cedar Avenue, it would be "more acceptable."

"With the traffic flow, we [the planning commission] just felt like it would be a bad decision," she said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at