East Ridge moves against ‘spot zoning’

Council resolves to support single-family residential neighborhoods

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony in December. Williams and members of the East Ridge City Council earlier this month voted to pass a resolution showing support for the city's residential communities.
Staff photo by Olivia Ross / East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony in December. Williams and members of the East Ridge City Council earlier this month voted to pass a resolution showing support for the city's residential communities.


East Ridge is taking a stance against townhomes and other multiple-family residential arrangements popping up in neighborhoods.

The City Council wants to show its support for maintaining the city's residential neighborhoods with one family per lot, which the body made official by unanimously passing a resolution intended to provide guidance to officials making decisions on residential rezoning requests.

"This is kind of setting an intent of this body that we're wanting to protect and preserve residential communities," Mayor Brian Williams said at the Feb. 8 council meeting when the resolution was passed. "It doesn't mandate or put any statute in place."

In a memo, City Manager Scott Miller said that over the past year, the city has received requests for properties in single-family residential districts to be rezoned as residential townhome or commercial districts to allow for the construction of townhomes.

Miller said he has managed other cities that govern growth and redevelopment with land-use plans, which typically contain clauses restricting "spot-zoning," or the rezoning of properties in established single-family residential districts for higher-density use.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga agrees to pay $425,000 in zoning lawsuit)

The city of East Ridge does not have a land use plan with such clauses to protect the integrity of its residential neighborhoods, Miller said.

"Obviously, this city is growing, and as this body is being posed with rezoning requests, the idea is to come up with some guidelines," City Attorney Mark Litchford said at the meeting.

The resolution includes nine items for city officials to consider when making decisions on the dais concerning rezoning requests for multifamily residential uses, he said.

(READ MORE: More apartments and townhomes planned in East Ridge)

Factors for consideration include form and scale of adjoining development, integration between single-family residential and higher-density uses, maintaining attractive environments and quality of life, infrastructure and safety concerns.

"I want to be clear that this does not mandate any particular requirement of voting," Litchford said of the resolution. "It's a good guiding policy to look at in connection with whether you're going to vote for or against a rezoning."

In response to a question from Council Member David Tyler, Litchford said legal nonconforming properties will not be affected by the resolution unless there is a request for rezoning.

For example, if an applicant seeks to rezone a property in a residential townhome district for a more intensive use, such as a commercial use, the considerations included in the resolution can help officials decide whether the zoning change will negatively affect factors such as traffic and pedestrian safety, Litchford said.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.


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