Planner of Signal Mountain grocery to address neighborhood's concerns

Planner of Signal Mountain grocery to address neighborhood's concerns

September 25th, 2017 by Myron Madden in Local Regional News

Signal Mountain town officials examine the 8.5-acre lot behind Signal Crossing after a public forum about its proposed rezoning Aug. 9. Developers hope to rezone the property from low-density residential to highway commercial, making it suitable for a proposed 40,000-square-foot grocery store. (Staff photo by Myron Madden)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The Signal Mountain Planning Commission has given developers hoping to build a grocery store at 617 Cauthen Way 30 days to state their intentions for the property.

Following a well-attended public forum last month, The Keith Corp., which also owns nearby Signal Crossing, asked the commission to table its rezoning request for the 8.5-acre lot until further notice. The property now is zoned low-density residential.

The Keith Corp.'s Knox Campbell said the extension would give the commercial real estate firm time to create a more compelling proposal. He said the company will invest in additional engineering plans, schematics and third-party service providers, such as architects.

"It seems like the more detail, the better, in this municipality," said Campbell, referencing forum attendees who called for more information about the proposed plan.

Planning commission members voted Sept. 7 to give developers until the Oct. 5 meeting to inform the board of its intentions or withdraw the rezoning request.

If the company chooses to proceed, it will be required to hold another public forum to present its updated plans.

Campbell said the firm already is looking to address some of the feedback and concerns heard from residents during the August forum. He pointed to comments regarding how the entrances to the property will be handled and what time delivery trucks would be allowed to stock the grocery store as some of the issues the firm is examining.

During the August meeting, Campbell said he also heard several concerns about architecture. He said the firm is trying to find a "complementary, mountainesque design" that will fit the town's unique feel. He also said the firm would consider residents' desire for a type of town-center development, and will work to improve the landscaping at its Signal Crossing property by adding trees and other natural features.

"I don't think the plan is going to be changed drastically," Campbell said. "I just think we're going to do a better job of highlighting the benefits, the attributes, and then we're going to try to incorporate everything else we own and [give it] a face lift."

Among those keeping a close eye on the process are residents opposed to the development. A petition against the proposal had garnered more than 1,160 signatures, which Signal resident Wendi Morgan said is about 500 more than she anticipated when she started it five weeks ago.

Morgan said she appreciated the planning commission for setting a time frame, which she believes will keep residents from waiting "on pins and needles" for the matter to come up again.

"People who are following this would like to not have it slip by us," she added. "I think that's what is more concerning: that it's going to come up in a meeting and we're not going to be looking."

The planning commission's Oct. 5 meeting begins at 6 p.m.