Some Apison residents are worried that a proposed Dollar General store will pave the way for what they say is unwanted commercial projects in the largely rural area outside Chattanooga.
"I love where I live," said Katie Scott. "I don't want it ruined. It starts with Dollar General. It takes one property to go commercial for everything to go commercial."
But an engineering company working on rezoning land for the store at 11156 E. Brainerd Road said there's confusion about the proposed Dollar General and speculation related to a large vacant tract across the street.
Ben Berry of Berry Engineers said an entity had the large tract at East Brainerd and Bill Jones roads under contract, but not anymore.
"That has caused a lot of confusion," he said.
Scott said that a Hamilton County regional plan for the Apison area includes the idea of a potential development like Cambridge Square at East Brainerd and Bill Jones roads. Cambridge Square is a large, mixed-use project that has gone up in nearby Collegedale.
"We don't want our community to go all urbanized," she said.
A neighborhood meeting is slated for June 25 at 6:30 p.m. at a pavilion next to Fire Station 3, 11115 Park Place, in Apison.
Lisa Brown, managing director for KW Commercial in downtown Chattanooga, said the 6.9-acre tract at East Brainerd and Bill Jones just went back on the market. The asking price is $475,000, she said.
Brown said county plans show mixed-use on the large site, primarily residential. But, she said, because the property doesn't have access to sewer it may be several years before it's developed.
Lizette Mendoza Williams-Marlow, who also lives in Apison, said she doesn't want a Dollar General store on East Brainerd Road.
"It sets the stage for what comes next," she said. "More storage units?"
However, Williams-Marlow said she's not against a face lift for downtown Apison.
"But let's not start with Dollar General," she said. "Can't we do better than that? How about a Trader Joe's?"
Berry said Dollar General likes the vacant East Brainerd Road parcel where rezoning from agricultural A-1 to commercial C-2 is being sought from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission next month.
"They've identified this as a business that would do well," he said.
Berry said the closest store is four miles away. He said Apison once had four general stores, but now it doesn't have any.
"That's what Dollar General is seeing," Berry said. "They see a void in that area. It may offer a lot of convenience for a lot of residents in the area."
He said a neighborhood meeting is slated for June 25 at 6:30 p.m. at a pavilion next to Fire Station 3, 11115 Park Place, in Apison on the proposed Dollar General.
But Scott said a Dollar General isn't needed at the site.
"It's not like we're in a food desert," she said, noting there's a Food City supermarket not far away.
Scott's mother, Beth, said the community hasn't been asked if it wants commercial development.
"People have a right to sell property to whoever they want do," she said. "But whoever purchases it, you need to be aware it's a rural community. They move to Apison because they don't want city life. I intentionally made that move to be in that part of the county because it's rural."
Berry said that if the rezoning for the Dollar General store is approved July 13 at a meeting of Planning Commission, work is to start this year.
He said the exterior of the store would be upgraded to brick from a typical Dollar General. Berry said plans are to use a septic system and not tap into a sewer line, noting there no such line available at the site.
Katie Scott said she's concerned that a sewer line extension would be run to the Dollar General, opening up development of the larger tract across the street into a commercial center.
"I want what's best for Apison," she said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.