Zoning panel rejects Hixson wedding venue proposal after opposition

Zoning panel rejects Hixson wedding venue proposal after opposition

January 10th, 2018 by Mike Pare in Breaking News

A zoning panel on Wednesday rejected a request for a permit to build a wedding venue on a 20-acre site in Hixson after the proposal was opposed by neighbors over worries of noise and traffic.

"The board understood their concerns," said Joe Manuel, who represented about 75 people before the Hamilton County zoning appeals board.

Jennifer Petty, who wants to put up the wedding venue and a bed and breakfast facility, had no comment after the meeting.

But she had told the board that the wedding venue would be built for 300 people or less. Only about 5 acres of her 20-acre site would be used for the wedding facility, a nine-unit bed and breakfast and a house she planned to use as a residence.

Petty said she wanted to spend $6 million on the property at 1929 Hixson Marina Road.

Thomas Hayslett, an attorney for Petty, said he understood there's a lot of concerns about the proposed project. But, he said, schools, churches or civic lodges could be built there today under existing zoning.

"They'd be more intense in terms of development," he said. "Traffic would be more intense."

However, Manuel said it was clear the proposed facility is "a pure commercial venture" that could be operated every day of the year.

He termed the proposal "a mini-motel" that would be surrounded by mature residential subdivisions.

Opponents cited a narrow road, no sidewalks or curbs and pedestrians who walk on the street. If the wedding venue is permitted, emergency calls could go up, they said. Opponents also worried about diminished property values should the proposed facilities go up.

Manuel said Petty could appeal the decision by the panel.

On Monday, Petty had won approval for construction of the bed and breakfast part of the project from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. The bed and breakfast still must go before the Hamilton County Commission for final approval.

But Petty said Monday she would not build the bed and breakfast if she doesn't also receive permission for the wedding venue.

Manuel said he expected the homeowners would oppose the bed and breakfast if she tries to move ahead with it.

Stephen Adams, who lives near the proposed wedding venue site and also opposed the project, said he was glad to see the result before the board.

"Can you imagine the noise of a party of 300 people with an open bar until 11 p.m.?" he asked.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

This story was updated Jan. 10, 2018, at 10:56 p.m. with more information.