Some might think, why would anyone on the back of the mountain in Sequatchie County be interested in the Walden Town elections. I’ve been thinking about that and I know exactly why. We have been keenly interested ever since we moved here almost a decade ago to this lovely mountain top, to our wooded rural neighborhood. Even more so since we saw the rezoning notices put up at Lines Orchids at Taft Highway and Timesville Road and cringed at the risk of unfettered, unplanned development.
We are not new to aggressive development movements, having had experience with them in Germantown, a small community turned overgrown suburb of Memphis. Germantown’s congested, hackneyed current state is the result of strong-armed developer tactics hand in glove with complicit acquiescence by governing groups, and in our case I’m thinking the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission and the two out of three of the Walden Town Board.
I see nothing wrong with considered and planned development and reasonable growth that fits the site and character of the location. That is why I’m so interested in the Walden town elections. Even though I live on the back side of this lovely mountain, I will be affected by the commercial blight and all the consequences that will follow. I'm thinking increasing traffic, road damage, water runoff, environmental degradation, and, not the least, spoilage of the unusual, beautiful character of this mountain top. Getting to the best result for Walden and the mountain top is what this is all about - not some last minute, rushed, fantasy solution to real fiscal problems that leaves a tiresome strip center with gas pumps in its wake.
It is interesting to recall the convoluted path that the developer and the governing bodies had to take to get to the distorted result we have today. The developer originally requested rezoning under the commercial rules and withdrew that application only when the Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency would not recommend the change. It didn't fit. Then, the developer reapplied for zoning under the Village Center rules, asking that all requirements be waived to fit his big square box into a community circle. It still doesn't fit. What is currently proposed is No Village Center, even for all its 23 conditions in lieu of the six actual requirements that were so blatantly waived. None of the 23 conditions address the actual requirements. None.
This election is not about good people and bad people. It’s about planning well and making the best choices. Walden voters have the opportunity to make a careful decision to vote for the better candidate(s), and right now I’m thinking Lee Davis and Lizzy Schmidt. They will work with the entire mountain community toward a well developed plan for growth and appropriate development for Walden and the entire mountain top. A plan that will both preserve the small town charm of Walden and the natural beauty of the mountain without straining the limits of its rocky, shallow infrastructure, and I’m thinking septic and storm water runoff systems.
Lee Davis has proven his commitment to a thoughtful approach that honors the integrity of the zoning regulations and the character of the community. Lee has a platform that spells out how he would cooperatively “lead a coordinated effort for Walden, the unincorporated part of the county, and Signal Mountain to discuss infrastructure and growth.” This approach will help bring the community together to create a better, cohesive vision for residential and commercial growth on Walden's Ridge. Lee Davis’s vision, along with Lizzy Schmidt's thoughtful like-minded approach, will respect the needs of the community while leading it to sustainable growth that we can all be proud of. There is no reason to settle for anything else. Think about it.
Sequatchie County on Walden's Ridge