Faced with a roomful of upset homeowners Tuesday night, Chattanooga City Council members voted to make sure a developer won't be able to include rental apartments in his plans for around 36 acres on Reads Lake Road.
Council members voted 7-2, with two abstentions, to seek specific conditions that stop Pratt Developers from turning the former clubhouse at the Quarry golf course into rental apartments.
Pratt has proposed a mix of single-family detached homes and townhomes for most of the property, which is zoned for residential use. But a years-old zoning glitch left the clubhouse property zoned C-2 commercial, which would have allowed its redevelopment into apartments.
Neighbors in the north Mountain Creek Road area had opposed the plan since it first came up before the Chattanooga Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, when Pratt withdrew it.
On Tuesday night, Steve Hunt spoke for the quiet crowd that packed chairs in the council room and spilled over into the lobby. Hunt said more than 700 people had signed a petition opposing rental property on the site. He said he and the neighbors liked developer James Pratt and hoped to work with him, but they are adamantly against rentals.
Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger went over the tangled zoning history of the site, saying the city may have failed adequately to notify property owners in 2002 the property had been rezoned to C-2.
And attorneys Sam Elliott and Tom Hazlett warned that while the council may impose conditions on current rezonings to ease their impact on people and neighborhoods, trying to set conditions now for a 16-year-old zoning would be illegal.
Councilman Darrin Ledford, chairman of the council's planning and zoning committee, talked about the balance between private property rights and warned the council shouldn't overreach.
Councilman Chip Henderson, who has worked extensively with Pratt and the homeowners, proposed an amended resolution asking the city attorney's office to come up with a zoning request that would prevent turning the clubhouse into apartments. Ledford and Councilwoman Carol Berz abstained. Anthony Byrd, Demetrus Coonrod, Russell Gilbert, Jerry Mitchell, Vice Chairman Erskine Oglesby Jr. and Chairman Ken Smith voted with Henderson.
The crowd applauded thankfully, and council members in turn thanked them for participating in the process of government.
Contact staff writer Judy Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416.