City Council Considering Interim Ordinance Curbing Development Of Steep Slopes, Floodplains

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The City Council is considering action soon on an interim ordinance curbing development of steep slopes and floodplains.

The measure would limit development of slopes of 33 percent grade or more to 20 percent of those steep grades.

It would allow no more than 51 percent of a floodplain to be developed.

A large number of developers in the audience indicated they are strongly against the measure.

Barry Bennett, executive director of the Home Builders Association, said the group wants to meet with officials of the Regional Planning Agency. He said the group wants to try to work out a compromise plan that he said would be more agreeable to developers as well as citizens concerned about Chattanooga's hillsides being developed. 

Councilman Darrin Ledford, who heads the council's planning and zoning committee, said that meeting needs to take place quickly, indicating the council plans to take a vote soon. The measure is not yet on the Nov. 27 agenda.

He said it is necessary to set some standards "to be strong stewards of the land we have left."

However, he said the council is also keeping the interests of developers in mind.

He said the measure would not apply to projects where land disturbance permits have already been issued or subdivision plats have been approved.

The aim, RPA Executive Director John Bridger said, is to fashion a permanent ordinance on the issue down the road.

Mr. Bennett said most of the flat land has already been developed. He said there is a need to continue the current building push, especially in order to construct more units of affordable housing.

He said the ordinance would harm developers who have spent thousands of dollars on upcoming projects, but do not yet have them approved.

He also said a number of industries and workers rely on the construction industry.

At a recent public hearing, a number of citizens urged the council to take action to protect Chattanooga's unique hillsides and landscapes.


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