South Broad Street Publix plan may come up again before zoning board

South Broad Street Publix plan may come up again before zoning board

December 4th, 2018 by Mike Pare in Business Diary

A vote last month that turned down a developer's plan for a Publix store on South Broad Street may be revisited today by the Chattanooga Board of Zoning Appeals.

A motion from the board to explore reconsidering last month's vote may come up, said John Bridger, executive director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

He said he understands that if last month's board decision is reconsidered and nullified, another vote on the Publix proposal could come up in January.

The reasons behind a possible reconsideration of the November vote are unclear, and Bridger referred questions to the city attorney's office, which did not return a phone call on Tuesday.

Mike Price of MAP Engineers, which is representing the developer, declined comment.

The board, in a 5-to-4 vote last month, denied variances which would have allowed Alliance Realty Services to erect the Publix supermarket at South Broad and St. Elmo Avenue.

Jim Johnson of Chattanoogans for Responsible Development said that reasons justifying a reconsideration which he has seen in recent emails don't hold water. One mentioned that the developer didn't have ample time to present his case, Johnson said.

Another reason was a possible conflict of interest by a board member, he said.

Johnson said he thinks that supporters of the Publix proposal are hopeful that those who want a different Publix plan will tire of their opposition.

"I think it's energizing people who care about Chattanooga," he said.

Alliance Realty had originally sought a C-2 rezoning of the 4-acre tract for the planned supermarket, which includes the site of the former Mt. Vernon restaurant.

But many people in the area objected to the developer putting the building at the rear of the lot with parking in front. They wanted to keep existing zoning, which would enable the store to go up close to the street and ultimately bolster property values in the neighborhood, they said.

In July, the Planning Commission voted in favor of a zoning variance related to the size of the planned store along with some small shop space on the tract. But the project still needed Board of Zoning Appeals approvals to move ahead.

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