Proposed Publix-St. Elmo-Opposition Is Out Of Bounds - And Response (3)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

All land zoning, rezoning, and variance requests must include public notification and input from the surrounding community.  It is the law, and transparency is usually a healthy process, where a developer along with their professional staff of licensed engineers and architects can accommodate reasonable community vision changes to the design.


The Chattanoogan article titled, “Opposition Comes Up With Their Own Design For St.

Elmo Publix Ahead Of Wednesday Zoning Appeals Meeting,” is shocking to me.  The opposition is out of bounds.


When a person or company owns property by title in Hamilton County, that property has a designated land use or zone classification developed by local planners with the Regional Planning Agency or by the local smaller jurisdiction.  These zone classifications of property are adopted by each local government.  


The property owner pays property taxes and retains control of activities on their property within the constraints of the designated land use, or a non-conforming land use that may be grandfathered uses.


Zoning or land use is not complicated. Within a zone classification there is a host of allowable and prohibited activities that may occur on land from residential, manufacturing, and many other zone classes that will allow mixed uses, especially in urban areas.


It is extraordinarily common for redevelopment in urban areas to find difficulty in meeting the various challenges of rigorous zoning regulations and infrastructure limitations. That is why Hamilton County and the other local governments have a zoning variance board.  Small concessions on zoning rules should be allowed to accommodate development hardships.


Nothing is more challenging that urban redevelopment riddled with confined spaces, excess utilities, and regulations that have escalated to a point that redevelopment of existing sites in highly urban areas can be cost prohibitive.


Imagine for a minute, you are willing to risk capital, and go to a bank to borrow to build.  You are a developer, and make no mistake about it, it is a financially high-risk activity.  It may appear easy, but development in urban areas is extraordinarily expensive due to so many constraints and over regulation.


So, you are the developer, and have the buyer or client, regulators beyond comprehension, a community you must appease, and a bank note that begins to accrue interest the minute you made a construction draw to pay the professional and licensed architect and engineer. The interest payments due at the 10th of each month usually. 


You are the developer and you have investment capital at risk.  The bills are pouring in, and the community opposes, so a developer will make concessions where balance of client and finance can occur.


To keep the Publix project moving, this developer has bent over backwards for the St. Elmo community for months and months. 


Now, I read that the opposition to the development of the Publix grocery store in St. Elmo has the nerve to redesign a project to prevent the issuance of a zoning variance.  That is simply unbelievable to me.


The Publix project financed and owned by the developer, who has licensed engineers and architects that designed the project is in possession of the knowledge of what is possible within the financial constraints.  The vision, ownership, and financing belong to the developer. These opposition folks have gone too far redesigning the Publix store.  It is not their store, or vision.


Redesigning the developers project sounds personally motivated and beyond reason. 


A variance is a common and reasonable request for any commercial development dealing with extraordinary constraints.


No wonder Chattanooga has food deserts, who can build a grocery store with unreasonable obstruction?


I would be willing to bet that the majority of home owners in St. Elmo would enjoy a Publix store, as I do the Hixson store, love it.


Opposition, enough already, let them build this store, and design your own projects with licensed engineers and architects. 


Where zoning and land use fails in just my opinion is when surrounding land owners are financially harmed by a new land use. In cases where a proposed development causes the adjoining and surrounding properties to experience diminished property values and loss of accumulated capital, that is objectionable, examples are the Hamilton County proposed waste water treatment plant in Ooltewah or the zig zagging TVA transmission lines through prime farm land in Georgetown. 


Let’s face it, a waste water treatment plant as your neighbor is the kiss of death to property values.


Unlike developers who will make concessions, government has no regard. 


Opponents to Publix in St. Elmo, how is this Publix store going to harm your neighborhood, or lower property values?  This is a very reasonable question to Publix opposition, educate me with fact.


April Eidson 


* * *


Hello Ms. Eidson,

The parcel(s) of land Mike Price of MAP Engineers is proposing to build on is zoned UGC.  Neither of the two plans Mike Price has put forward have conformed to the zoning.  Therefore your first few paragraphs are moot in this case as he is not attempting to follow zoning.  He would be free to build whatever he wants on the land, as you rightly said, provided he follows zoning.

As for variances, in order to receive them the developer must demonstrate hardships that prevent them from following the zoning.  The point of the community plan was to show that the land can conform to current zoning without variance, save the building size which was already approved.  Throughout this process Mike Price has said that following UGC would be impossible.  This is not true.  He has also said that he has worked closely with the community.  This is not true.

The only personal motivation of those who oppose variances and rezoning is to bring in a project that will sustain the community over the next 20 or 30 years, not the shortsighted approach of slapping a project down so a developer can pay his architects.  The change in zoning to UGC for this area and others was done over a number of years by locals invested in the community.  Bending to the will of a developer is antithetical to all that hard work and planning.

Let me emphasize again, those who are in favor of the community plan want Publix.  They want it developed according to the zoning which was well thought out and carefully crafted.   This type of building maximizes tax revenue, job opportunities, residential units, and it would fit stylistically with development such as 100 at South Broad which is almost complete and about to be extended toward the proposed Publix site.

Frank Shepard


* * * 

The Publix building proposed for St. Elmo or South Broad Street is an outstanding design with very nice aesthetics.  A small group opposing the zoning variances, or a community plan where few ever show up, do not represent the will of the community of St. Elmo.   


If the zoning variance was placed on public referendum, I am certain Publix would prevail.  The will of special opposition interests does not represent the entire community.

Publix is one of the best grocery stores in Hamilton County.  


St. Elmo and South Broad, enjoy your food deserts.  

Publix, there are a mass numbers of great parcels in Lookout Valley, Soddy Daisy, and Jasper. We would welcome that beautiful rendering of a new store proposed for St. Elmo in our community with open arms.  Bring on that bakery, fresh seafood, and great products.

Sorry, about the obstructionist that believe private property is theirs to control. 

Signed, fan of Publix Stores.


Joey Blevins 


* * * 


I am for the Publix being built in the St Elmo area.  It is needed and wanted by many. 


Jennifer Free

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