Planning Commission Recommends 2 Ooltewah Residential Projects For Approval

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - by Gail Perry

Two new, large housing developments in Ooltewah were given a recommendation to move forward by the Planning Commission on Monday.


A 46.4-acre property at 7210 Snowhill Road was rezoned from A-1, agricultural district to R-1, single family residential district with no opposition. Pratt and Associates was approved for a Planned Unit Development of 137 units at the location which is compatible with the Wolftever Creek land use plan.

That larger plan, however, has low density, so the Regional Planning Agency staff put conditions on the development that require that it be surrounded by a landscaped buffer. Mike Price, owner of MPA Engineers¸ said a 10-foot buffer is planned along Snowhill Road as well as the north and south boundaries. The buffers will be planted with trees spaced 25 feet apart. The units along the perimeter of the development will have 50-foot minimum lot widths.


The only objection came from Blythe Bailey, transportation administrator for the city of Chattanooga, who said that approving this plan and others which have only one way in and out of the subdivision, will cause hundreds of people to use Snowhill Road. He recommended, but the panel did not require, planning for a feasible extension of another street to use as an access road in and out of the neighborhood. The plan was unanimously approved with little other discussion.


A 22-acre property incorporating 9012, 9016, 9018 and 9032 Raydoe Road in Ooltewah, just north of Cambridge Square, was also rezoned from A-1 Agricultural. This designation was changed to R-3, multi-family residential, despite the staff’s recommendation to deny. This development proposes 161 units of garden home style apartments that are being built as affordable housing. This zoning is the only one that would allow this suburban residential type of development. High density is the only way that affordable housing can be built with the high cost of land such as this that is in a high growth area, said Mr. Price who has also engineered this development.


The units would be mostly single story, with the possibility of some being two floors and would have a small fenced area behind the unit rather than the standard deck on most apartment units. There are 118 buildings planned for the site, and some units will be duplexes. The developer is willing to provide property to build an extra lane beside the development and has planned a turn-around at the entrance. The area also has the ability to tie into an existing sewer that is close to the properties.


The RPA staff approved the concept but said other locations in Ooltewah are more appropriate. They said that the recently adopted White Oak Mountain land use plan calls for single family zoning which should be used. If the recently accepted plan was not followed, it would set a precedent, the board was told.


City Councilman Darrin Ledford, who is also on the Planning Commission, has toured a similar development in East Brainerd and said it is unobtrusive from the road, that the residents who live there like the single-family appearance and feel of the apartments, it is gated and has security, and is an “interesting product: that meets a high demand. The development "is a good mix for a lot of different folks with different needs," he said, "and it meets the affordable housing demand.” In the next 10 years, he said that East Hamilton County is projected to have 32 percent of the county’s growth so housing there will be needed. Board member Jason Farmer said, “This type of development is growing all around the country. This is a big site and it will set a precedent for affordable housing in a desirable area with a diverse community. It all equals a huge win.”


The rezoning was approved with conditions that include a requirement that the buildings have 40-foot set-backs, there is a limit of 161 units, there will be a clubhouse and pool and a turn-around at the entrance. Blythe Bailey was the only vote in opposition because he said the plan is going against the recent land use plan which should direct the board’s judgment.


Owners of a .96-acre lot at 6100 Highway 58 at Harvest Run Road have requested to rezone the property from R-1, single family residential to C-2, convenience commercial zone to build a RV and boat self-storage lot. The RPA staff has recommended to deny the request because the now vacant lot has the potential of being a nuisance to the adjacent residential subdivision when the storage areas are built. The lot is on a steep hill that would have to be cleared and leveled, so there is also the potential that runoff of stormwater could cause problems due to the change in topography.


The owner of the property said activity would be during the day and the lot would be locked at night. There would be a buffer that varied between 20 to 50 feet around the 260 parking spaces, along with an opaque fence. He said the lighting would be directed inward and down to help with lighting pollution for the homes next door. It was noted that the rezoning to C-2 would not be for any particular use, so that in the future the property could be used for purposes other than self-storage for vehicles.


The applicant, John Cunningham, said he spoke to Chattanooga City Council member Ken Smith about his project. However, Mr. Ledford informed him that the property is in the district represented by Council member Carol Berz. If the Planning Commission voted to follow the recommendation of staff and voted to deny, the applicant could not make changes and reapply for nine months, so Mr. Cunningham opted to defer the request for 30 days to give him time to speak to council member Berz.


A request for the city of Chattanooga to abandon a portion of an alley behind a lot at 1309 Spears Ave. in North Chattanooga, was recommended for denial. The proposal was to use the section of alley as a driveway into the property. That would have cut off use of the alley to the rest of the homes that back up to it. The owner, Darian Harris, plans to take the request directly to the Chattanooga City Council to reconsider the decision.


The lot size of 900 Avon Place is 13,939 square feet and it is surrounded by homes with equally large properties. The minimum size allowed in the area prior to Monday was 7,500 square feet. The owner requested for the property to be split into two lots of 6,970 square feet which would require a variance of 530 square feet, and the second lot would be 6,960 square feet, which would need a variance size of 540 square feet. The board voted to follow the recommendation of RPA staff and grant approval despite nearby homeowners fearing it would devalue their properties and cause too much traffic getting to Hixson Pike and increased runoff caused by the clearing of vegetation.


Approval was given for the owner of 513 Unicorn Trail, Chattanooga, to split the property into two lots so each of the two structures will have its own lot. Considering staff recommendations to approve and with no opposition, the 1.2-acre lot was divided.

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