City Bond Board Approves Issuance Of Up To $9 Million In Bonds For Aetna Mountain Tax Increment Financing In 5-1 Vote

Monday, October 15, 2012

The City Bond Board, after hearing lengthy presentations from the developer as well as opponents, on Monday voted 5-1 to issue up to $9 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds for a major development on Aetna Mountain in Lookout Valley.

Developers Doug Stein and Gary and Bobby Chazen say they are planning "a small town" on top of the mountain that is now wilderness and most frequented by four-wheeler enthusiasts. Ten people have signed up thus far to build homes in the development. As many as 1,400 homes are envisioned.

The motion was passed with the agreement that a legal opinion will be issued that the project qualifies under state requirements for TIFs. Attorney John Konvalinka, representing project foe Helen Burns Sharp, said he has serious doubts that it does qualify. One suggestion was to get an opinion from the state attorney general's office.

Attorney George Masterson of Nashville, bond counsel for the project, said the developers will front the money to build a spine road up the mountain and to the town center along with a sewer line. He said they would make "draws" on an escrow account taken from taxes in the TIF district. The current "base tax" amount is $32,000.

He noted that the taxes going into escrow would not include the school portion, money for normal city or county debt service and a five percent administrative fee.

City Councilwoman Deborah Scott, whose District 1 includes the project area, asked that it be further studied, saying it was "not ready for prime time."

She said TIFs were mainly set up for "blighted" areas. "This is not a blighted area," she said.

Councilwoman Scott also said that there is only one access road to the community. She said Lookout and Signal mountains "both have two."

Bond Board Chairman Ted Mills said the project had already been approved by the County Commission and City Council and the bond board was to just make sure the paperwork was in order. Councilwoman Scott told him, "This board is not a rubber stamp."

Councilwoman Scott also said a development group involved in the project had twice failed to fulfill obligations on projects in other states. Attorney Mike Mallen said that was not the case. He said one newspaper article passed out by Ms. Scott regarding that company and a bankrupty referred to it as being a creditor in the bankruptcy, not the one filing for bankruptcy. 

An attorney for a group of Aetna Mountain residents who have been in litigation over the old Aetna Mountain Road said he objects to the developers "changing the name to Black Creek Mountain." He said it is Aetna Mountain and Black Creek "is a creek in the valley."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Woman's Body Found Floating In Hiwassee River

A woman's body was spotted floating in the Hiwassee River in Polk County on Saturday afternoon. Crews said it appeared the woman had been dead for some time. The 911 call came in shortly before 4:30 p.m.. The TBI was called in to help in the investigation. The body has not yet been identified.. (click for more)

Woman Whose Car Landed On Tracks Below Wilcox Boulevard Viaduct Sues City

A woman whose car went off the Wilcox Boulevard Viaduct and landed on railroad tracks below has sued the city of Chattanooga. Rebecca Thomas-Winkler said the bridge is in poor and substandard condition and the guard rail was inadequate.  The suit says on Aug. 24, 2013, Ms. Winkler was traveling east on Wilcox Boulevard at about 12:30 p.m. She was crossing the bridge that ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)

Ex-Ooltewah All-American Jacques Smith released By Falcons

Former Ooltewah Owls All-American and Tennessee Vols defensive standout Jacques Smith has been released by the Atlanta Falcons, who are 10 cuts from reaching their 53-man roster for the 2014 season. Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert and tight end Mickey Shuler were also released. Smith, an undrafted free agent, is said to be a "viable candidate" for the Falcons' practice squad ... (click for more)

Baylor Comeback Swamps Webb, 34-7

Baylor lost a fumble on the third play of the game and the visiting Webb Spartans scored five plays later, but the Red Raiders came storming back to win their second-straight game, 34-7, over the D-II, Class A two-time defending state champions. Quarterback Nick Tiano, who has already committed to Mississippi State, hurled two touchdown passes and scored a third on a sneak from ... (click for more)