Walden Council Votes 2-1 To Approve Controversial Rezoning Request For Lines Orchids Property

“I Fear That Legal Action Could Come Because Of The Town’s Action,” Vice Mayor Lee Davis Says

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - by Judy Frank

It took them a while, but Walden Town Council members voted 2-1 Tuesday evening to approve a request from LOP, LLC that they rezone a 15-acre tract of commercial land in the heart of the town to village commercial. 

The outcome was greeted with applause from developer John Anderson’s wife, Teresa – who has campaigned actively on social media in favor of the project – and other supporters sitting on chairs placed around the edges of the room.

But Vice Mayor Lee Davis, noting that the project does not comply with Walden zoning requirements, was worried. "I fear that legal action could come because of the town's action," he said after the meeting.

LOP’s public face, attorney/landowner/developer Anderson, had sought a VC-1 (Village Center) zoning designation for the former Lines Orchids site so it could be transformed into a combination grocery, office, retail and fuel center complex. 

At the meeting, after making lengthy statements – large portions of which were inaudible to the standing-room-only crowd attending the meeting – both Mayor William Trohanis and Alderwoman Sarah McKenzie voted to approve the project.

“We can’t hear you,” people at the back of the room called out repeatedly as Alderwoman McKenzie read on and on. 

They didn’t have that problem with Vice Mayor Davis, who cast the sole dissenting vote and whose arguments against approving the rezoning could be heard in the hallway outside the council room as well as in the room itself. 

It makes no sense to “scrap and rip up our zoning plan,” he told the crowd. 

What’s the rush, the vice mayor wondered, suggesting that the town should take the time to hire a planner and have a study done that would determine the actual highest and best use for the former Lines Orchids property. 

“If this is such a good deal,” he concluded, “it’ll still be a good deal after we do our due diligence,” winning an extended round of applause from the crowd.          

His words, however, did not persuade his colleagues on the council, who noted repeatedly that the rezoning approval comes with numerous conditions. 

“With respect to Mr. Davis’ concerns,” Mayor Trohanis observed, “we have the power to deny this (later) even if it’s rezoned.” 

As proposed, a 43,000-square-foot grocery would be built on the site of the old Lines Orchids greenhouse property, which is located at the intersection of Timesville Road and Taft Highway. 

Another 10,000 square feet of structures would be constructed along Taft Highway, developer Anderson indicated at a public hearing held in September. 

According to Walden zoning codes, VC-1 “village center” requires a blend of commercial and residential areas in a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. The proposed grocery complex contained no residential elements and was not pedestrian-friendly, according to critics. 

Vice Mayor Davis, addressing the crowd before the vote was taken, said he’s troubled by the fact that the developer won’t identify the grocery store chain that wants to do business in Walden. 

“I want to see the person who’s actually going to build this come before us,” he said. 

The vice mayor said Mr. Anderson bought the property in Walden knowing full well how it was zoned, and then demanded less than a year later that the town ignore its ordinances and let him build whatever he wants. 

As proposed, the project does not contain a plan for dealing with the sewage created by a 43,000-square-foot grocery and other buildings, Vice Mayor Davis said. 

“Anybody who has lived here for a while knows that the (sewage) has to be taken care of first,” the vice mayor said, in a reference to the decades of problems with poor percolation and polluted streets and streams that resulted in a building moratorium on the mountain. 

There are also other problems, he said. For example, Mr. Anderson’s plan calls for just one curb cut between the 60,000-square-foot parking lot and Timesville Road. 

“Can you imagine trying to make a left-hand turn out of there onto Timesville?” he asked. 

“Somebody is going to get killed,” he predicted, “and we don’t have any law enforcement . . . There are two (Hamilton County Sheriff’s) officers who patrol this entire district – and Lookout Valley is in the same patrol district as we are.”



Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Upcoming Red Bank Commission Agenda

Judge Sustains Murder Charge Against Burress In Robert Gill Killing; Dismisses Charge On 2nd Defendant, But Wynn Faces New Federal Charge

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARNOLD, DEBORAH LYNN 15760 MAY RD SALE CREEK, 37373 Age at Arrest: 62 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION(POSSESSION ... (click for more)

Here is the upcoming Red Bank Commission agenda: I. Call to Order – Mayor Eddie Pierce II. Roll Call – City Manager Mayor Pierce ____, Vice Mayor Jeno ____, Commissioner Howell ... (click for more)

General Sessions Court Judge Alex McVeagh on Tuesday sent a first-degree murder charge to the Grand Jury against 25-year-old Marquise "C-Banger" Burress in the shooting death of 29-year-old Robert ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ARNOLD, DEBORAH LYNN 15760 MAY RD SALE CREEK, 37373 Age at Arrest: 62 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION(POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SU --- BAIRD, LORI K HOMELESS CHATTANOOGA, 37341 Age at Arrest: 59 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga CRIMINAL TRESPASSING --- BARKER, HEATHER ... (click for more)

Upcoming Red Bank Commission Agenda

Here is the upcoming Red Bank Commission agenda: I. Call to Order – Mayor Eddie Pierce II. Roll Call – City Manager Mayor Pierce ____, Vice Mayor Jeno ____, Commissioner Howell _____ Commissioner LeCompte ___, Commissioner Rose ____ III. Invocation – IV. Pledge of Allegiance – V. Consideration of the Minutes for approval or correction: A. January ... (click for more)


Allow Refugees To Settle In Chattanooga

County Mayor Coppinger, I hope you will sign the bill allowing Bridge refugees to settle in Chattanooga. Although not personally involved with the Bridge resettlement program, I do know a family of refugees that arrived here within the past year through this program. The father works at a poultry processing plant and is the sole supporter of his family. Contrary to what some ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Fair Thing To Do

More times than not, I stand solidly against laws, rules, or, in particular, any human beings who discriminate against others. Yet in a bill just proposed in the Tennessee State Legislature, I am very much in favor of an anti-transgender bill. I feel the legislation – which is very regrettable although necessary -- will move very fast towards Governor Bill Lee’s desk and just as ... (click for more)


Dial, Williams Lead Lady Mocs Win Over Wofford

There hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about concerning Chattanooga’s Lady Mocs basketball so far this season, but they made everyone at McKenzie Arena Thursday night happy as they headed for home following a tough SoCon win. Playing perhaps their best game of the year, the Lady Mocs improved their Southern Conference record to 2-1 with the 80-76 victory over the Wofford Terriors ... (click for more)

Lady Vols Win Third Straight, Down Florida 78-50

The No. 24/25 Lady Vols picked up their third-straight SEC win on Thursday, defeating the Gators in Exactech Arena, 78-50. Junior Rennia Davis , playing in front of family and friends who made the drive over from Jacksonville, led the effort for Tennessee (14-3, 4-1 SEC), finishing the day with 18 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Rae Burrell was also in double digits with ... (click for more)