Chattanooga planners endorse rezoning for 300 apartments near Volkswagen as some neighbors say project could 'overpower' area

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Chattanooga planners have agreed to rezone a tract of land not far from the Volkswagen Drive exit at Interstate-75 to make room for a 300-unit apartment complex.

But the move to rezone property at 8007 and 8009 Bork Memorial Drive and Old Lee Highway drew opposition from some neighbors, who said the proposed apartments and a possible new hotel nearby could overpower the street system and neighborhood.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday recommended rezoning one tract that will hold some of the apartments from an A-1 agricultural zone to an R-3 multi-family housing district. The panel agreed to rezone an adjacent parcel from A-1 to R-1, or single-family residential.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers, representing developer Ardmore Partners LLC, said that the property was to be joined with another site already zoned R-3 to originally build 408 apartments.

But after a neighborhood meeting, the developer is proposing to build just 300 apartments, he said. While the rezoning case Monday involved a 13-acre parcel, that was scaled back to 5.8 acres for the apartments. The other property would be rezoned R-1 under the new proposal, Price said.

Under the old plan, the developer had proposed nine buildings on 9.7 acres, with four of the structures four stories high, he said. Under the new plan, there are eight buildings with only two of them four stories high, Price said.

City Councilman Darrin Ledford noted that Price was asking that a sliver of a 13-acre site to be rezoned R-3, and that the development was losing one building. Also, with currently zoned land, the 300 apartments would be built on a total of 15.4 acres.

About a half dozen people opposed to the proposed apartments spoke against the changes.

Richard Brown said the neighborhood feels strongly that property now zoned A-1 should remain so.

"The wisdom of [a 2009 decision by the panel] leaving that A-1 is good wisdom," he said. "The development has the potential to really overpower and change this neighborhood."

Also, Brown said, neighbors are "very concerned" about increased traffic on two-lane roads in the area.

"Old Lee Highway is still two lane," he said, and putting 300 apartments on that road is "problematic."

In addition, Brown said, there had been discussion of a hotel on nearby property, which coupled with the apartments would create traffic problems.

"Move this project toward Old Lee Highway," he said.

Price said the development group would work with Hamilton County on road improvements.

The rezoning was approved by the Planning Commission and the Hamilton County Commission is expected to take up the issue for final approval on Aug. 21.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.