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It's not yet official, but a new grocery store is most likely coming to Signal Mountain.

After years of proposals and months debating this particular one, planned for property at Taft Highway and Timesville Road, Walden officials agreed 2-1 on first reading to rezone the 9-acre parcel last week.

If approved on second reading Oct. 29, the site will also hold small shops.

The landowner, Chattanooga attorney John Anderson, declined to name the grocer eyed for the store, saying he's under a confidentiality agreement. Following a contentious bid in 2017 that was withdrawn, Food City last year had looked at putting a store in the adjacent town of Signal Mountain but was turned down.

Walden resident Mickey Robbins, who opposed the rezoning for the new project, said he believed there is a strong sentiment by Walden residents against the project.

He said there should be a land-use plan for the town before such a project like Anderson's was approved.

Alderman Lee Davis, who voted against the rezoning, agreed. If the rezoning for the project was approved, he said, it would lead to "irreparable harm to the town."

While noting the town was divided on the proposal, Mayor Bill Trohanis said environmental and building concerns would be addressed by the 17 zoning conditions and permitting for the planned $15 million development.

Alderman Sarah McKenzie said she believed a full-service grocery store on the mountain would occur somewhere.

"If it's outside of town, we lose control," she said, citing the look of the project and tax revenues.

The current site, the longtime home of the Lines Orchids greenhouse, is "an eyesore," she added, and Anderson's plan includes green space.

Anderson has said his proposal would provide Walden with a town center and a meeting place for residents, and that Walden could garner some $200,000 annually in sales taxes based on $16 million a year in grocery sales at the store.

Email Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com.

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