Thanks For The Compromise

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Last year, I attended several meetings and hearings regarding the potential rezoning of a 190-acre parcel of land on Highway 153 that Scenic Land Company planned to develop. As a board member of the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, I joined with many citizens of Hixson to voice our opposition for the development due to concerns over traffic safety, water quality, and community character. My primary concern centered on the protection of North Chickamauga Creek, which runs adjacent to the proposed development.  

We, the opposition, packed the hearings, and when the Council voted to reject the request to rezone, we celebrated a victory and hoped that the future use of the land would reflect the plans and the spirit of the community. While we realized the inevitability of development, we insisted that the city take a careful approach and avoid “rubber stamping” a deleterious project.

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2014, I sat in the same chamber at City Hall with a much smaller crowd and watched the council unanimously approve the rezoning of the parcel of land on 153 to open the way for the Scenic Land Company to develop the property. 

Jerry Jones, a former opponent of Scenic Land Company, stood and spoke in favor of the development and the developer, Duane Horton. He pointed out that the Horton had created a new plan that met or exceeded the many conditions that the community put forward to guide the development.   

Since I agree with Mr. Jones, I would like to thank several parties for creating something that is too scarce these days: compromise. Councilmen Chip Henderson, Jerry Mitchell, and Ken Smith organized an advisory group that represented the varied interests of community, the Hixson Community Review Committee. Ellie Wallis, executive director of the NCCC, served as an advocate for North Chickamauga Creek and her fellow residents of Hixson. These folks spent many hours drafting conditions for the developer and discussing how the community would prefer the development to move forward. When presented with the conditions, Duane Horton of Scenic Land Company worked assiduously to produce a plan that adhered to the conditions, and Jack Lonas, the landowner, funded consultations and studies that drastically improved the character of the proposed development. 

Over the period of a year, a contentious debate became a pleasing compromise, but it did not come without a lot of hard work. Thanks to the diligent work of Councilmen Henderson, Mitchell, and Smith, and the Hixson Community Review Committee, the citizens of Hixson gained a strong voice in the debate, and we appreciate that Mr. Lonas and Mr. Horton honored the wishes of their neighbors.  

As noted by the Council, concerns remain over the 153/Dayton Boulevard interchange, and as the development proceeds, the NCCC will continue to monitor the impact on the community and the creek However, the SLC satisfied the conditions for the rezone, and for that, we are grateful. 

Tim Laramore


Great Work, City Auditor

As a voter, I was skeptical about having an independent city auditor’s office. This office was created by referendum of the voters. The public wanted third party oversight of city government, for good cause.  I will be the first to admit I was wrong.  A primary problem was the auditor being hired and fired by the mayor’s office, who could also set the auditors operating ... (click for more)

Commissioner Mackey Asks All to Support Football Mocs

The moment that many of us have been waiting for six months is upon us---it is football time in Tennessee.  If you live within the greater Chattanooga area I am asking you to join me in looking upon the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as being our hometown football team.  And it is an exciting team that we can be proud of.    The Chattanooga Mocs will ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Big John Henderson Will Be Vols "Legend" At Sunday Opener

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – From 1999-2001, John Henderson cast a long shadow on the defensive line for Tennessee. Sunday, the man and the shadow return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since his final run through the “T”. Henderson will be honored before the Tennessee-Utah State game as the Legend of the Game, celebrating a decorated career at UT that saw the Nashville native pick ... (click for more)

Santiago No-Hits Smokies

Starting pitcher Andres Santiago no-hit the Tennessee Smokies (32-34) to lead the Chattanooga Lookouts  (32-32)  to a 1-0 win and propel them into sole possession of first place for the first time this season.  The no-hitter was the Lookouts’ first since June 1, 1996 when Travis Buckley threw one against the Huntsville Stars. Santiago was lights out since the ... (click for more)