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Updated at 8:48 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, with more information.

A proposed grocery store project on Signal Mountain has been pulled by the applicant from next week's Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission agenda.

But the landowner may resubmit a proposal to the panel within about 60 days and rework the plan for the Walden development, a spokesman for the project said.

The move comes after Chattanooga planners last week recommended the denial of a zoning change sought by the developer to enable the construction of the new grocery store.

The project, which calls for a 49,000-square-foot grocery store and 10,000 square feet of adjacent retail space, is not compatible with the small-scale commercial development found along Taft Highway, the Regional Planning Agency staff said.

Richard Ford, who lives on the mountain, said he thinks the original plan was detrimental for the area. He, too, cited the size of the store.

"It was a regional supermarket," Ford said. "The original size was not a grocery store."

He said he's willing to take a look at any new proposal.

"It depends on what they'd do," Ford said.

The staff recommendation said the size of the buildings and parking lot, lack of pedestrian connectivity, and lack of public spaces does not meet characteristics of a preferred town center or town corridor development.

Also, the staff said that expanding the C-1 commercial zone further into a rural area doesn't meet the existing recommendations of the Walden Plateau Area Plan.

"It will also set a precedent for future requests," the staff said about the proposed project at Taft Highway and Timesville Road.

Chattanooga attorney John Anderson had sought to rezone about 15 acres at the site that for many years held Lines Orchids Greenhouse to hold the grocery store, which he declined to identify.

"Retail sales will remain at home," said Anderson at a recent public meeting.

Anderson estimated that between $22 million and $32 million of food sales consumed every year at homes on Signal Mountain are currently bought off the mountain. The potential total retail "leakage," including items such as pharmacy sales, pet food, and alcohol, is over $101 million annually, he said.

He estimated that on $16 million annually in grocery sales at the store, Walden could garner some $200,000 annually in sales taxes from the new development.

Many people indicated their support for the project in letters and emails to the Regional Planning Agency.

Realtor Jean Smith said that she was "thrilled about the prospect" of another grocery store on the mountain. She noted that due to her job, she's aware of the number of new subdivisions planned for the area.

Smith said the store would be "desperately needed," adding it would help retirees.

But Walden resident Joe Davis said the development as it was originally proposed was in direct conflict with the values, principles, and objectives of the town's mission and vision as well as the Walden Plateau Area Plan.

"The developer is not proposing a mere variance from the regulations," Davis told the Regional Planning Agency. "Instead, the developer is proposing a fundamental transformation of the character of Walden."

Last year, a 38,000-square-foot Food City was proposed for the adjacent town of Signal Mountain, but was voted down by the town council.

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

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