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Contributed Rendering by Franklin Architects / A rendering shows a proposed Walden grocery store at Taft Highway and Timesville Road.

This story was updated on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, at 6:11 p.m. with additional information.

A proposed resolution is expected to be considered Tuesday that could reverse the town of Walden's support for a planned grocery store.

A copy of the proposed measure, slated to be heard by the town board at a meeting, says that passage of an ordinance in 2019 that had enabled the grocery store project to move ahead was in error and in violation of state law.

The copy said that the town will no longer oppose claims in a lawsuit filed in early 2020 by some Walden citizens and another man against the ordinance and the grocery store.

"Mayor Lee Davis is hereby authorized and directed to take all appropriate actions to obtain the invalidation" of the ordinance, the copy said.

The proposal also directs attorneys for the town to support the ordinance's invalidation and cooperate with those who filed the lawsuit against the project.

Town attorney Sam Elliott said the passage of the resolution would let the court where the lawsuit is being heard know the town has changed its position.

The suit, originally filed in Hamilton County, has been transferred to Bradley County after local judges recused themselves, he said.

The proposed resolution comes after Davis, who had vigorously opposed the grocery store while serving as the town's vice mayor, was elected mayor late last year. He beat former Mayor Bill Trohanis.

Also, Lizzy Schmidt was elected as an alderman, and the copy of the proposed resolution states that the town board "has determined the passage of the ordinance was in error."

Chattanooga attorney John Anderson, who is a partner in the group supporting the grocery store, has denied that the ordinance paving the way for the project was improperly approved.

The decision by the town board in 2019 was "supported by material evidence, had a rational basis, was fairly debatable and was not arbitrary, capricious or illegal," said Anderson, who is a partner in the group LOP LLC.

Anderson declined to comment on Monday about the resolution.

Two Walden residents and another person who lives near the planned project at Taft Highway and Timesville Road had filed suit against the landowner and town that's located atop Signal Mountain.

Gary Smith and Linda Collins, both of Walden, and Anthony Wheeler, who lives in Hamilton County near the proposed development, brought suit claiming that the board that passed the ordinance and approved the project was in direct conflict with a land-use plan and zoning.

The proposed project would hold a 44,000-square-foot grocery store, which has been identified in drawings as a Food City, and small shop space.

Walden officials had put 23 conditions on the project that is to go on the site that for many years has held the Lines Orchids Greenhouse.

The proposed $15 million project won approval after a long fight with a number of residents on Signal Mountain. Anderson has said the development is expected to generate about $610,060 in revenue to the town and to Hamilton County each year.

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

 

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