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Rendering by Franklin Architects / A proposed grocery store is part of a $15 million commercial project in Walden.

This story was updated Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at 9:06 a.m. with more information.

A Hamilton County Chancery Court judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order against the town of Walden from passing a proposed resolution withdrawing its support for a planned grocery store.

Chancellor Pam Fleenor set a hearing for Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. on the matter involving LOP LLC, which wants to build the grocery store and small shop space and sought the court order.

The chancellor's order said that the petitioner "has no other adequate remedy" and will "suffer irreparable injury" if the temporary restraining order is not issued. It cited costs expended in relation to the company's work on the project.

The town's board was slated on Tuesday at a meeting to consider the resolution that would reverse Walden's support for a planned grocery store.

A copy of the proposed measure said 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 directed attorneys for the town to support the ordinance's invalidation and cooperate with those who filed the lawsuit against the project.

But Davis said at Tuesday's meeting that Chattanooga attorney John Anderson of landowner LOP LLC had filed a lawsuit, and the mayor asked that the proposed resolution be rolled until next month's regular meeting of the panel.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Walden Mayor Lee Davis

"In the spirit of not wanting to get ahead of ourselves, we'll not consider the resolution," 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.

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

Anderson 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 in an earlier court filing.

Anderson declined to comment on Tuesday.

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.

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

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Staff file photo / John Anderson earlier talks to an overflow crowd at the Development Resource Center on Market Street about a proposed new grocery store in Walden.
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