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Neighbors are keeping an eye on historic preservation and stormwater retention as developers seek to bring a 41.3-acre subdivision to the 600 block of Julian Road.

Located in East Brainerd near the Council Fire Golf Club, the Engel Park subdivision, if approved, would bring 156 lots for upscale townhomes and single-family homes to property formerly owned by Joe Engel, the late owner and promoter of the Chattanooga Lookouts.

The regional planning commission approved Pratt & Associates' preliminary plat for the project last week, but not before hearing from Phillip and Emily Goldberg, who own property adjacent to the land slated for development.

The landowners voiced concerns about treatment of the historic gravesite on the developer's property, which they said marks the final resting place of soldiers from the War of 1812.

"At this point in time, [it] has not been well kept," said Phillip Goldberg. "It's a historic gravesite, and we'd like to see what their intentions are for that."

Emily Goldberg also expressed apprehension about the "baseball columns" on Julian Road potentially being damaged during the construction. The brick columns topped with large, concrete baseballs once served as markers for the entrance of Engel's farm. Though their sporty paint has long since faded, they remain standing today.

"The [columns] also are on our property as well, and we have preserved them," she told commissioners. " They hold a lot of history. If you know Joe Engel, that was his land. These baseballs were made on that property to replicate part of Chattanooga's history."

Outside of preservation issues, Phillip Goldberg said he was concerned that the subdivision could become overly dependent on his property's retention pond. Though the Goldbergs granted Pratt & Associates an easement for the pond, it is already struggling with overflow of water on its southeast corner, he said.

Phillip Goldberg also called for more buffers between his and the subdivision's property, citing possible safety issues.

"The reason why that concern is there is that there's free access to obviously a large neighborhood of children growing up who can have free-range access to this pond, which then ultimately would be our liability if anything were to occur," he said.

Ben Mies, director of development at Pratt Home Builders, said the project is currently undergoing the permitting process through the city, which, once complete, will address any lingering questions about stormwater. He also pointed out that there are detention, retention and infiltration beds outlined in the project's design, and added that engineers would likely increase the size of the retention pond on the Goldbergs' property as part of the site work.

Pratt & Associates will need to return to the planning commission with a final plat for the project, and at the commissioners' request, Mies assured that the developer would work with neighbors to protect historical artifacts and continue the conversation with area planners before the project moves forward.

The plans also call for new street construction to provide access to Julian Road, and Mies said a traffic study is currently underway.

Email Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com

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