Jay Bell is the March Edge Closer.

A Chattanooga builder says he's moving forward on plans for a 166-unit housing development in Ooltewah, though he agreed to limit access after some neighbors worried about increased traffic to the planned $58 million project.

Chattanooga developer Jay W. Bell said he wants to put up 123 single-family homes and 43 townhomes adjacent to the existing McKenzie Farms development.

During a meeting of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday, Bell agreed to restrict traffic on Peppertree Drive.

"We'll work it out with neighbors to make sure they're happy," he said, adding that plans are to start construction on the new homes within a year. The units are expected to sell for about $325,000 each, on average, Bell said.

The planning commission agreed to a proposal that includes construction of an emergency medical services facility on a piece of the property holding the new housing and limiting access to McKenzie Farms.

About a half dozen McKenzie Farms residents were concerned that traffic from a nearby Ooltewah school would end up traveling through their neighborhood.

David Jeffers said the neighbors understand the Ooltewah area is growing. But he told the panel that people going to and leaving the school would use the new road and cut through the existing neighborhood.

Neighbors also cited a possible increase in crime, and they worried about a potential drop in property values. They said 72 individuals had signed a document expressing concerns.

Bell said the emergency medical services station will be "good for the school and good for the neighborhood."

Todd Leamon, a planning commission member, said that it seems like "connectivity is the biggest issue."

Discussion arose at the meeting about putting a gate on Peppertree Drive that would limit traffic to emergency vehicles.

"I'm not opposed to a gate," Bell said. "I think it will be odd to have a gate."

Also, there was discussion about putting a cul-de-sac at the street or some other feature that would restrict traffic.

"We'll work with the neighborhood to limit access or not have it connect at all," Bell said.

The Hamilton County Commission is expected to consider the planning commission's recommendation on Oct. 9.

He said that the original plans for the project were approved for sewer connections four or five years ago, so that's not an issue.

Last October, the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority optioned to buy 157 acres of farmland in Ooltewah to build a $45 million sewage treatment plant to handle growth.

But the proposed plant immediately ran into a storm of criticism from neighboring residents concerned about the smell from such a plant and any possible leak or environmental damage from a sewer overflow or malfunction.

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