Developer John Wise stands in front of his latest Chattanooga project to open in the 1800 block of Chestnut Street. City leaders are putting together a new zoning package for the future that is based on form, instead of traditional use standards.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission approved a request Monday by local developer John Wise for a new development of townhomes in the North Shore area.

Wise requested the planning commission to rezone a nearly one-acre site at 309 Tremont St. and 330 Tucker St. to allow for the development of 12 townhouses.

The lots were already zoned to accommodate 15 dwellings per acre if they are built no more than 2.5 stories tall, or 35 feet high. But Wise requested changing it to a multi-unit zone allowing for approximately 20 dwellings per acre at three stories tall, or a 40-foot height limit.

Wise said the townhomes would sell for about $450,000 each.

"I think it will be a good project," Wise told commissioners. "I have worked very hard to get these neighbors all in as far as I know they are all in favor of this. We've had multiple meetings."

The planning agency staff recommended to approve the rezoning request at Tremont Street with the condition that the new townhomes be only two stories high, not three. But the staff recommended to deny the zoning change at Tucker Street, stating the land is surrounded by single-family residential homes and that the rezoning request was too dense for the area.

The planning staff instead recommended zoning the site to an E-RA-2 classification which accommodates two stories with a 35-foot height limit and prohibits multi-family units of more than five units.

Wise said he did not object to staff recommendations other than that he plans to make both developments three stories, with one of the stories below ground level with rear parking. He said the townhomes would still be lower than neighboring homes on the hillside.

Planning commission members endorsed the rezoning request, removing the condition that he keep the Tremont Street development at just two stories and adding a condition that Wise have parking in the rear of the development for his residents.

Five residents spoke in opposition of the proposed development, voicing concerns over increased traffic, pedestrian safety and stormwater run-off issues.

Bob McNutt said he met with Wise in a series of meetings with residents over the past few months, and he thinks this is as good of a proposal residents will get for the area.

"We seem in general hesitant agreement," McNutt said to the commission. "The damage done to that lot was done by two previous owners."

Developer Thomas Connolly previously planned to put townhouses on the land in a $2 million project before Wise bought it. Collier Construction was expected to do the work for Connolly. Ethan Collier of Collier Construction is the chair of the regional planning commission.

Staff cited in their report of the rezoning request that the previous Tremont Street owners had already dug out the hillside and made "sheer vertical cuts." Residents said at the meeting that it has caused a "safety hazard" and stormwater issues. Collier Construction was fined $1,200 in fines at one point for not stabilizing the site, according to city stormwater violations.

Neighborhood residents' Dan Nice and Sarah Webb both said Tucker and Tremont streets are already very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists and several cars try and drive the wrong way on Tucker, which is a one-way street. They also said there are stormwater problems during heavy rains.

"Every time there is a big storm, you will see a river of water run down the street," Webb said about Tucker Street.

The Chattanooga Department of Transportation conducted a traffic study and determined there were no major transportation concerns in planning documents.

Wise said he is in the process of creating some "extensive stormwater" plans for the development, and the plan will not create any excessive stormwater issues for neighbors. He also said the city is requiring him to put in sidewalks that are the width of his development for traffic safety, and the residents of the new townhomes would be parking in the back of the development and not on the street.

The Chattanooga City Council will decide on the rezoning request at their meeting on Sept. 11.

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.