When is Village Center Zoning not a Village Center? When not one of the Village Center (VC1) zoning criteria are met. After purchasing the Lines property and partnering with a supermarket realizing Walden’s commercial zoning only allows for 5,000 square feet, the buyer withdrew that zoning application and wrapped the shopping center project as a Village Center (VC1). I will not take the time to lay out the criteria of a VC1 in this note but have attached a link below for fact checking as well as informing. The point is that Mr. Trohanis led the effort to ignore all of the VC1 zoning criteria and allowed this 43,000 square foot shopping center project to proceed.
Bill Trohanis has done a tireless job in support of our Walden community. I dare say, few have worked as hard to enrich and preserve Walden. That said, his decision to allow the new development on Taft Highway is why I am supporting Lee Davis who argued against this project qualifying as a VC1. I realize that almost two dozen “conditions” have been tacked onto the project, but once the ground is broken, the train has left the station. Traffic, storm water, septic, environmental, and public safety issues would arise after the project is built. Maybe and hopefully the added tax revenue will be enough to compensate the future burden to Walden.
This is not about a supermarket. I can debate convincingly the pro and con of having a 43,000 square foot supermarket complex in Walden. The issue is that we are making a mockery of our existing zoning by allowing commercial development that fits none of our current zoning. Why have zoning? With this precedent, I am not sure we do.
To mention, as I have read, the eyesore of Lines as a reason to allow this development is a bit selective. What about the abandoned church, vacant gas station now bus depot, lawn mower repair shop, and empty restaurant all a pitching wedge distance from Lines? Those are not necessarily things of beauty. I wonder what will occupy the other two 5,000 square feet commercial buildings that are part of the supermarket project?
Lee Davis has fought to preserve the bedroom community nature of Walden that drew us here in the first place. Out of place development and ignoring existing zoning has no place in Walden. I encourage you to think hard about the leadership Walden needs for the future and by all means, vote.
18-year Walden resident
PS: For details of VC1 and a legal opinion regarding the use of VC1 for this project, please see the attached link article from Judy Frank from the 10/5/19 Chattanoogan.com.