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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Finished homes sit next to homes under construction on Highborne Lane in Ooltewah this summer.

This story was updated at 8:56 a.m. on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to correct the address of the proposed development.

A proposed $50 million single-family home development in a rural area off Ooltewah-Georgetown Road drew fire on Monday from nearby property owners who want to keep a bucolic lifestyle.

Jooma Development LLC wants to put up from 170 to 184 homes on a 92-acre tract at 10444 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers, representing the developer, told the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission that an A-1 residential planned unit development designation would enable 184 homes.

He said that, under the plan, 40 acres of the site would be set aside for community space. Price also suggested 10 conditions be put on the project to improve it.

Price said if that proposal wasn't approved, the developer already could put 170 single-family homes on the property without the conditions or 40 acres of community space.

He said he believed the 184-unit proposal was "more palatable" to neighbors.

However, a number of people spoke in opposition to the development.

Dean Moorhouse, who said about two dozen people at the meeting were opposed to the project, told the panel that the proposed use doesn't meet the Regional Planning Agency's existing plan for that part of Hamilton County.

Also, he said, the development is five-and-a-half miles from the closest fire department.

Greg Vital, who recently won a seat in the state House of Representatives, said he owns property near the proposed site and he's concerned about too much development in the east portion of Hamilton County.

"Density has gotten too much," he said.

A woman who lives in the area asked about the impact the development would have on schools or roads, and another resident mentioned concerns about damaging the historic nature of the farming community.

Price said that changes to the developer's original plans were made after an earlier neighborhood meeting to decrease density.

"I understand the concerns," he said.

But Price said change is coming to that area.

"It's reality," he said.

County Commissioner Greg Martin asked about the sewer system proposed for the development. Price said the system would be like two others which are in use in the county.

City Councilman Darrin Ledford termed that part of the county "a magical place" that offers "a sense of open space."

But he said more projects such as the one proposed are coming to Hamilton County, citing a move this summer by the commission to lower density on some residential developments.

Chris Mabee, a panel member, called the proposal "a tough case," citing legitimate concerns by neighbors.

But he said many people in the Chattanooga area can't find homes.

"We're at a crisis level," Mabee said.

The planning panel decided to defer a decision for 30 days to enable another community meeting.

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

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