Expressing worries about traffic, noise, runoff, and a drop in home values, about 20 residents who live near a proposed grocery store project in Walden denounced the complex on Thursday.
"This is a residential area," said Gwen Havner, who owns a couple of lots on Timesville Road across from the proposed $15 million development.
Gay Brown, a co-owner of the property, said that if the former Lines Orchids Greenhouse site at Taft Highway and Timesville must be redeveloped, houses are a better option.
"If they've got to develop it, put in homes like the rest of the neighborhood," she said at a meeting of the residents who live close to the planned full-service grocery store.
The proposal from landowner and Chattanooga attorney John Anderson was OK'd on first reading earlier this month by Walden town officials. A second and final reading is slated for Tuesday.
Walden officials cited a need for a full-service grocery store and enhanced tax revenues in voting 2 to 1 to approve new zoning for the parcel.
Anderson has said he had no problem with the 17 conditions officials have put on the project that includes a 43,000-square-foot grocery store and about 10,000 square feet of small shop space.
He has declined to name the grocer eyed for the store, saying he's under a confidentiality agreement. Food City last year had looked at putting a store in the adjacent town of Signal Mountain, but was turned down.
On Thursday, residents on and around Timesville Road offered a variety of reasons they believe the project should be voted down.
Sandra Koss, who lives on Lewis Mine Road, said the Walden board is ignoring many people who live in the area because they technically live outside the town limits.
"We'd be the most impacted," she said.
Her husband, Mark Koss, said the proposed site isn't the proper place for such a sizable development.
"That's our only way in or out" onto Taft Highway, he said.
Area resident Carrie Ashton said she, too, is primarily concerned about traffic.
"I like the idea of a grocery store somewhere," she said, adding there's more development going on toward the Sequatchie County line and that would be a better fit.
Resident David Plank said sewer and stormwater runoff are his worries.
"We're adding all this pollution," he said.
Brent Havner said he has lived on Signal Mountain all his life and he remembers "the small town feel."
"Why do they need another grocery store up here?" he asked, adding that most mountain residents work in the valley and pass several supermarkets on their way home.
Nearby resident Tony Wheeler said environmental groups are interested in what's going on with the project.
"They're interested in participating in the evaluation" of the project, he said, adding there could be legal avenues at some point.
Anderson, who lives in Walden, has countered critics of the proposal, noting his plan offers a town center complex and that it will provide the mountain with a better sense of community.
"It will be the place where more people on Signal Mountain see each other than at any other place on any given day," he said.
The proposed grocery store would sit at the back of the site, while the small shops are on Taft in the proposal. The number of parking spaces, 222, have been reduced from 273 under a prior plan.
Anderson has said the mountaintop communities are growing, with upwards of 1,000 new residences planned. The center would help meet needs of existing and new residents, he said.
"This is important to the long-term tax sustainability of the mountain and service sustainability," Anderson said. "There's a demand for this on the mountain."
He has said his proposal would provide Walden with some $200,000 annually in sales taxes, based on $16 million a year in grocery sales at the store.
Also, Anderson plans to donate seven acres of the 15-acre site to Walden as park space.
He said the grocery store will be full-service, unlike Pruett's Market in the town of Signal Mountain, which has remodeled to sell more wine and individual meals.
"You don't have one [grocery store] that cuts across all economic levels [on the mountain]," Anderson said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.