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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Finished homes sit next to residences under construction on Highborne Lane in Ooltewah. Some people in the Ooltewah area worry about over-development.

A proposed $50 million single-family home development in a rural area off Ooltewah-Georgetown Road won approval from a planning panel on Monday despite concerns from neighbors.

A proposal by Jooma Development for 184 single-family homes in a planned unit development at 10444 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road was endorsed even though about a dozen nearby residents showed up to express worries about building in the rural area.

Dean Moorhouse, who spoke for many at the meeting who have doubts about the proposal, told the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission the development will result in small lot sizes and high density in a rural area.

"It's as rural as you could possibly get," he said. "It's the last green space in eastern Hamilton County."

Moorhouse said there are concerns about emergency services and traffic.

A woman who said her family has long lived in the area said she's not opposed to change but the 184 homes are too much in the farming community.

Residents in nearby East Brainerd are already complaining about over-development with some people wondering about a building moritorium.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers, representing the developer, said that Jooma Development already could put up 174 homes on the 92-acre parcel under the existing A-1 Agricultural zoning.

Price said he believed the better option was 184 residences with about 40 acres of community space under the planned unit development special permit.

He said he understood the project has "created a lot of angst in the community." Price said the extra 10 homes will permit the developer to financially pay for the improvements sought by neighbors.

The Hamilton County Commission still needs to give its final OK to the proposed development that was also discussed a month ago and deferred so another community meeting could be held.

Still, Moorhouse raised questions about a planned "experimental" sewer system for the project. He said there are only three such systems now operating in the county.

County Commissioner Greg Martin asked if there already are A-1 planned unit developments in the county. Planning Commission staff said there are about 14 such developments.

Panel member Jason Farmer told Moorhouse that he understands he and others don't like the housing development. But he said that the 184-house planned unit development seemed like a better option.

Moorhouse said the project is still about four miles from the next such housing development. At the same time, there's already been a lot of development in the fast-growing Ooltewah area, he said.

"There's been so much change out there," he said. "It went from rural to the fastest-growing community in Hamilton County."

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

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