An Irresponsible Hixson Development - And Response (2)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The way city officials are evaluating and supporting Scenic City Land Company’s proposed Boy Scout Road development in Hixson is very troubling.  In spite of the proposal’s numerous inconsistencies, flaws, and use of soon-to-be outdated water retention methods, it seems as if the request for re-zoning and development will be allowed.  

Duane Horton of SCLC has been introducing and reintroducing changes to his plan for months.  It isn’t apparent that anyone (including Mr. Horton) is exactly sure what is being proposed at this time.  At every city and community meeting I have been to, there are additions and changes to SCLC’s proposal.  I’m not sure if this is due to lack of preparation or an attempt to bait-and-switch.  Regardless, SCLC appears unprepared, unprofessional, and haphazardly dealing with a permitting process that is in place to protect people and environment. 

Equally as troubling is that our elected officials would vote on an application they had not read. On (Dec. 10, 2012) the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission approved the SCLC rezoning applications that they received minutes prior to voting.  Indeed, the plan SCLC presented had elements in it that had not been seen by the public or the Planning Commission. At a recent community meeting moderated by Councilwoman Pam Ladd, (Dec. 17,  2012) it was revealed that neither SCLC or the RPA had considered TWRA’s State Wildlife Action Plan which lists a significant portion of the proposed development as high priority forest block. 

Mr. Horton has repeatedly boasted that this development will contain surface water runoff controls to maintain 1 inch of rainwater on site for 72 hours and that this will "exceed any project that he knows of".  What he isn’t boasting about is that these controls will not meet the impending federal runoff reduction requirement to retain 1 inch rainfall on site indefinitely – nor will do his controls meet the RPA’s recommendation of holding 1.6 inches of water for 72 hours. 

Regardless, any statement about the effectiveness of SCLC’s runoff controls is premature given that neither a hydrology or soils study, nor a grading plan have been done on the site (despite the RPA's recommendation). The extent of runoff during construction and operational phases of this proposed development cannot be accurately predicted without such studies.  

Mr. Horton and his cohorts continually refer to this as a responsible development.  The responsible thing to do would be to improve and use the more than 600,000 square feet of unused developments in Hixon.  Indeed, a responsible company would help keep our scenic city’s land from such development. 

Sean Richards

* * * 

It is truly sad that developers are not interested in using derelict properties in various areas of Chattanooga. I guess they just aren't attracted to ready failed locations that may not be up to code, aren't worth renovating, might contain asbestos or chemicals that involve expensive removal, aren't the "right" size property, don't have access to enough utility and sewer, 
poor access, not enough parking, local restrictions, etc.? 

I've seen these evil stepchild properties. It's like trying to adopt out a mangy three legged dog that is blind in one eye and has an ear missing. Junior questions, "Daddy, what is wrong with our doggy?"

I'm dreaming that a consortium of investors and owners will come along someday and perform some basic cleanup and prep to give the derelict areas a fighting chance. Perhaps the group might include volunteers that are ready to add their elbow grease to the effort to rid our city of these eyesores. Any takers?

Ted Ladd

* * *

Regarding the comments by Sean Richards, I do know of a scenario where a developer was stopped. It was in South Pittsburg, the plan was to build a hazardous waste incinerator, and Nickajack Port Authority had the up or down vote to decide the fate of the project.  

Granted, on the  day of the vote, there was a large crowd on hand at the meeting place. Streets on two sides of the building were standing room only, the meeting space was shoulder to shoulder, and the yard out front was the same. I feel certain that every person living in that town today was there or knows several people who were. My guess is there were around 2,000 people standing at attention as the vote was counted.  

The count was against and the two reps of the developer left with two Tennessee Highway Patrolmen escorting them from the scene. Though I did not feel bad for her at the time, I do recall the young lady of that pair trembling as they left. 

That is one of the more pronounced versions of democracy at  work I have seen. It is what needs to happen in a community when opposition to a proposed project is near unanimous  and the outcome is pretty much assured to be a done deal by the elected body. 

If local governance was truly participatory, we would have city council meetings at Finley Stadium, not the smallish meeting room it is in near to City Hall. If the folks of Hixson are really serious about this, the subject will be  plain as Christmas coming for all in Chattanooga. 

Knowledge and power will go well past the rain shadow around that hilltop soon to be removed. 

Prentice Hicks
Lookout Valley




Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

It is hardly a secret that since I have become intensely interested in public education in Chattanooga, I have tried to read, research and understand how our efforts have fallen horribly short in the last 15 years. We agree we have a crisis on many fronts and I hope it is equally obvious I am desperate for solutions. Much like school board member Karista Jones, I worry that we are ... (click for more)

True Revenue Situation

My honorable and respected friend Roy Exum tells us again today, “It has been 12 years since the county fathers have approved a tax increase ... .” I’ll take his word for that, but want some more information. “No tax increase for 12 years” is just the chorus; I want to hear the rest of the song, the specific verses that really tell the tale. The fact is, although Roy’s bare ... (click for more)

Severe Thunderstorms Cause Damage On Signal Mountain; Widespread Power Outages Reported

Severe thunderstorms that came through around  7:30 p.m.  brought trees down on Signal Mountain, and widespread power outages were reported. Two homes that had damage were at  205 Sunnybrook, with eaves and gutter damage, and  601 Dunsinane Road, with major damage to the roof line and a tree fell through the living room area. No injuries were ... (click for more)

Rescuers Called Out After Male Hits Head After Fall From Rope Swing; He And Companions Trapped On One Side Of The Creek

Rescue crews were setting up a safety line at the first creek crossing at the Pocket Wilderness at the foot of Mowbray Mountain after a male was injured on Saturday night and he and his companions were blocked by high water. Around 7:30 p.m. , a 911 call was made reporting the male had fallen from a man-made rope swing and hit his head on the rocks below at the Blue Hole ... (click for more)

Bucs Nip Silverdale In Error-Plagued Baseball, 9-7

The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers and the Silverdale Baptist Academy Seahawks played a crucial baseball doubleheader on Saturday with first place in District 5-A on the line. Both teams entered play for the first game at Silverdale sporting identical 6-0 district records, but you would never have known it by the way that first game was played. In a see-saw game where the side was ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Dumps Ooltewah 3-2 For Choo Choo Softball Title

Softball, like most sports, is about numbers. How about these two One – the number of hits East Hamilton got off Ooltewah pitcher Mackenzie Patterson. Three – the number of errors Ooltewah made and the number of runs East Hamilton scored in the first inning. Oh, and one more: Eighteenth – the number of the final out when East Hamilton pitcher Sydnie Rogers ... (click for more)