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CITY PROJECTS

• City Council approved rezoning to make way for a plan to build upscale two- to three-story apartments at the Waterside development off Gunbarrel Road. The plan adds to the Embassy Suites hotel, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Mellow Mushroom restaurant already on the site.

• City Council approved rezoning in St. Elmo for developers to build a four-story commercial and residential project near the Incline Railway. The project will include 5,000 square feet of commercial space and 27 residential units.

• City Council approved rezoning in the Eastside area of Chattanooga to make way for a $35 million apartment complex at an abandoned factory. As many as 170 new apartments are planned for the abandoned Standard Coosa Thatcher plant, a project that will be geared toward artists and their families.

The Chattanooga City Council was at a stalemate Tuesday on how to appoint new board members to the city's Industrial Development Board that faces public criticism and is in a legal brawl over a $9 million Black Creek tax-increment deal.

The IDB board, a seven-member board that hears tax breaks and tax-increment financing deals for developers in the city limits, currently has two empty seats and two sitting board members have expired terms.

One of the members, Chris Ramsey, just quit after the city discovered he had served for more than 10 years as appointed by former mayor and current U.S. Sen. Bob Corker - but he didn't live in the city limits.

For weeks, the City Council has argued over how those members should be replaced. Council Chairman Chip Henderson said there were no clear guidelines in place to direct the council and on Tuesday he appointed a subcommittee to find two solutions to bring back to the council to vote on by next week. Councilmen Chris Anderson and Yusuf Hakeem and Councilwoman Carol Berz were appointed.

"It's really a matter of urgency," Henderson said.

In several public meetings the council has been split on who should pick the new board members and whether nominees should come from the mayor's office - like they traditionally have - or the council itself. The council then argued over who would make the appointment since there are nine council members but only a seven-member board.

The council then tried to extend the number of IDB board members to nine for each council member to have an appointment, but the resolution was voted down with a 4-4 council split.

The IDB board first came under scrutiny earlier this year, when Chancellor Frank Brown ruled there was something "fundamentally wrong" with the way the IDB handled a 2013 decision to award $9 million in tax-increment financing to a private development group. Under the tax-increment financing plan, a road will be built by the developers and its cost would be repaid by the city and county - with interest - using additional property tax collections from the mountaintop homes and businesses created by the new road.

Ramsey was the board member who made the motion last month to reapprove the tax-increment financing agreement. The project was approved by a 4-1 vote.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6659.

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