Quarry Property With Its Champion Post Oak Should Be Preserved

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It is the opinion of the 2,100+ petition supporters of the Friends of Mountain Creek (FOMC) that the former Quarry Golf Course property should be preserved as a park for the continued enjoyment of everyone in the area, thus supporting Mayor Berke’s green-space initiative. This would also complement the world-class mountain biking and bouldering park being programmed on the adjacent property.    

The property includes a magnificent Post Oak tree, the preservation of which is the subject of Senate Joint Resolution 546 signed by Governor Bill Lee. State Senators Bo Watson and Todd Gardenhire proposed Senate Joint Resolution 546 which was unanimously approved and signed by Senate Speaker Randy McNally. It was then forwarded to our State House Rep. Patsy Hazlewood who also garnered unanimous approval.  It was then signed by Governor Lee.  The current plans submitted by the developer to TDEC will eliminate this tree.

FOMC applauded our elected officials and the State Department of Forestry for recognizing this irreplaceable asset and Tennessee Treasure and contend that its preservation would be the better use of the land instead of another high density development on Mountain Creek.

Arborists from the Tennessee Forestry Department in Nashville officially recognized this tree as healthy and worthy of being Tennessee’s “Runner-Up Champion” Post Oak last year. The current Champion Post Oak tree, located in Madison County, is larger in circumference and spread, but at 78 feet tall, it is dwarfed by the Chattanooga Post Oak which is a full 43 percent taller at 112 feet.  Comparing Chattanooga’s Post Oak to all listed champion trees, it is the tallest of its kind in the world.  Post Oaks very rarely exceed 70 feet tall.

This land has been a recreation space for generations.  It is used by kids and families for fishing, hiking and dog walking. Wildlife of all kinds reside here including turtles, otters, deer and water fowl.  It has established a rural character that has attracted residents to settle in the Mountain Creek neighborhoods for years.  But now the developer intends to change all of this. He applied for a planned unit development (PUD) to densely pack 200 rental units and duplexes and triplexes on the 50-acre site.  These plans were, however, withdrawn when widespread opposition arose and the developer realized that a PUD would not be supported.

An alternative supported from “day one” by FOMC’s petition is for development that is consistent with the rural character of the surrounding area maintaining green space and protecting natural features including the clear steams, spring fed ponds, forest and Chattanooga’s Post Oak. Clearly, the first choice by FOMC is for this area to remain a green space.  The developer, however, would hear none of this. Instead, in this section of the Quarry, the tree will be removed to make way so that he can (in his words) “cram in as many doors as possible” resulting in an urban development of asphalt and shingles. His plans further appear to marginalize buffers designed to protect the adjacent streams.

We encourage the city leadership to preserve this tree and this property.  If the property is to be developed, we encourage TDEC and the city inspectors to at least require conservative stream buffers.  This is necessary in light of the very recent dismal failures to protect Mountain Creek and North Chickamauga Creek from similar water pollution as witnessed at developments on Tiger Lily, Reads Lake Road, Cassandra Smith Road and elsewhere since 2018 by this same developer.

If Chattanooga’s Post Oak and surrounding space is preserved, it could provide value and a source of pride to many for generations.

 Bob Geier

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