“I think the location is bad.”
Worries about the close proximity of a firing range used by Chattanooga police and other agencies scuttled a proposal on Monday by a landowner to build a bed and breakfast off Moccasin Bend.
"We can't shut the range down," said Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, who told a planning panel there are 27 jurisdictions which have access to the site that's utilized in some way every day of the year.
Still, property owner Stephen Holmen said he plans to take the issue to the City Council after the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission voted down his request to rezone a 20-acre parcel off Dogwood Lane that's within a mile of the range.
Holmen said he wants to construct a nine-unit B&B as well as 11 dwellings such as cabins or tree houses on the tract.
He said his property already is zoned residential and he could build townhouses or duplexes on the land if he wanted.
"We could put residences there and cut down the trees," Holmen said, adding he wants to preserve the natural habitat.
He said plans are to put the Moccasin Bend National Park nearby and it's "all about bringing visitors there."
"There's going to be people down there going to the park," the landowner said. "If there is any danger here, they should reconsider safety for the national park."
City Councilman Darrin Ledford asked if Holmen were willing to disclose the firing range to potential B&B patrons.
Holmen said he'd be "happy to do that" and put up signs to alert guests.
Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham said he likes the idea of a B&B on the tract if the shooting range wasn't there.
"I think the location is bad," he said.
Panel member Jason Farmer said that while the site already is zoned residential, he couldn't "in good conscience" support a B&B from a public safety standpoint and motioned to deny the rezoning request.
While there have been ideas floated in the past about relocating the firing range, that hasn't occurred. Roddy said it could be "a couple of years out" from finding suitable property or funding.
The Chattanooga Police Department and the sheriff's office for decades have used 33 acres for firearms practice and other training exercises.
The parcel sits on the banks of the Tennessee River and is surrounded by the National Park Service's Moccasin Bend Archeological District. Gunshots from the range ring out through the bend's hiking trails and can be heard from a portion of the Tennessee Riverwalk and the burgeoning Cameron Harbor development.
The park service is working on a management plan for the area that could bring more recreation opportunities to Moccasin Bend.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.