Pratt Land & Development has filed suit against the Chattanooga City Council over the rezoning of property off Reads Lake Road, which the developer claims has rendered the site worthless.
The suit, which also lists City Councilman Chip Henderson by name, said he drove the "illegal rezoning" and that the defendants "grossly exceeded their authority" and violated Pratt's rights under the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions.
"There is not a shred of legitimate city interest or public benefit to this rezoning," said the suit filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court. "It is the epitome of backroom politics and the ugliest side of a failed democratic process."
Pratt wants the rezoning overturned and the property returned to its prior C-2 zoning with no conditions. The suit also is seeking unspecified damages.
Neither City Attorney Phil Noblett nor Henderson had an immediate comment, but said an answer to the suit would be filed.
The property was the subject last year of controversy when hundreds of nearby residents opposed plans by Pratt Land and Development to put multi-family housing on the site.
James Pratt of Pratt Land had earlier called a request by the city to put conditions on his commercial property, without a proposal for the land's use before it, "improper, illegal and just not right."
The property is a 2.6-acre tract that included a clubhouse on the former Quarry golf course. It was rezoned C-2 in 2002, enabling the site to potentially hold multi-family housing.
People who lived in the area said earlier that when the property was rezoned from C-1 to C-2 in 2002, there wasn't proper notice given to the community about that proposed change.
Earlier this year, Pratt withdrew a plan to put apartments, townhomes and single-family homes on more than 30 acres at the 1001 Reads Lake Road site.
The suit, filed by Benjamin T. Reese of Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, said Pratt spent more than $100,000 on engineering, soil testing, surveying and legal issues related to multi-family housing.
Last April, the suit said, Henderson introduced a resolution directing the city attorney's office to file a zoning application on behalf of the council requesting conditions on the property. The resolution later passed that panel in October.
The suit said the conditions allow only uses permitted under a former, abolished C-1 Highway commercial zone classification.
"The council did not seek to condition any other C-2 zoned property in the entire city," the suit said. "The defendants targeted Pratt and this approximately 2.6-acre parcel to prevent Pratt from developing multi-family housing on the property."
The suit said the defendants spot zoned the property for no other reason than the political pressure of some of Henderson's more influential constituents.
The lawsuit said the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, which heard the case last September, recommended the city council deny the zoning case.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.