Lookout Mountain, Ga., Considers 2% Property Tax Increase; Oberon Trail Residents Not Happy Campers With New Development

Friday, August 12, 2022 - by Gail Perry

When homes in Lookout Mountain, Ga. were reappraised this year, property values increased significantly from the year before. If property taxes were based on the new assessments, property owners in the city would have seen around a 15 percent increase. To keep taxes close to where they were before the reassessments,  the city council Thursday night discussed lowering the millage rate one mil. The city will still receive a two percent increase or around $17,000 more in property taxes this year over last.

Public hearings will be  held on September 8 and Sept. 15 before actually setting the millage rate.


Property owners who live on Oberon Trail across Lula Lake Road from the city’s new municipal buildings came to the meeting to tell the council their frustrations with how their property has been affected by development The homeowners, who all agreed to have their street closed on one end to create a parking lot across Lula Lake, originally viewed the new development as a way to make the city better, and were prepared for the inconveniences resulting from construction. But they were not prepared for the water problems or the intense light pollution, they said.


The impervious surfaces created with the large roofs and parking lots around the buildings are partially to blame. Additionally the parking lot built across the street was sub-standard and had to be taken up in preparation of repaving it. The construction has also added to the water problems. Water has to go somewhere, said one speaker, and it is still seeking the original creek bed, but a large dirt berm that was built is redirecting the water from the creek and into people’s homes and yards. Another problem that the residents are dealing with is excessive light from the dozen double street lights that shine in their windows all night. Even though they are on dimmers, there are too many, they said. City Manager Kenny Lee said they cannot be lowered any more.


A meeting will be held where all parties involved, the residents, the builders, engineers and the council  will try to find a solution for both problems, said Vice Mayor Arch Willingham. But the residents asked for an immediate, temporary solution to protect their houses, and for a permanent plan ready to be implemented when the groups meet.


The gas company is in the process of hooking up the last houses to the new gas lines, and will follow up by checking all properties, sidewalks and streets that need additional repair resulting from the work. The whole gas line replacement project will be complete by the end of September or early October. Repairs on Wood Nymph Road are nearing completion, and the repair behind Hole 2 on the golf course is nearly finished. Ditch work has started on the south end of town. A tree and the stump by the gazebo were removed before the sidewalk was repoured. In preparation for fall, the city’s old garbage truck is being converted into a leaf truck and salt is being bought for icy roads, said Councilman Kevin Leckenby, the liaison to the public works department.


During July 2022, the Lookout Mountain, Ga. police made 25 traffic stops resulting in 19 warnings and five citations. There were 12 medical calls during the month and police assisted citizens 11 times in July. There were 14 burglar alarms and 33 miscellaneous calls during the month. After a recent wind and rainstorm, there were multiple trees that fell, including one whose roots caught and broke a gas line. Council member Leckenby, who is a volunteer firefighter for the city, told the council that after the storm neighbors in the affected areas were working alongside the volunteer firefighters in a mutual effort to keep people safe.


During August, the police department will have a training drill with the Lookout Mountain, Tn. police. The city’s new fire truck is due to be delivered in 60 days. Hoses and equipment are being purchased in preparation of the truck arriving.


The new golf cart ordinance that will allow their use on the streets after dark passed on the final reading. Commissioner of Fire and Police Taylor Watson said that all other rules relating to golf carts will continue to be enforced.


The council received a recommendation from the Planning Commission to allow short term vacation rentals on the second story spaces above the proposed commercial district. City Attorney Bill Pickering said the planning commission recommended expanded uses in the town center, but that no decision has yet actually been made. The council will make the final decision whether to amend the zoning to allow short term rentals after the Aug. 17 public meeting is held to discuss it. Residents will be welcome to participate.


Joe Wheeler Garden across the street from the municipal/commercial development is being designed now and community volunteer Jimmy Campbell said a sprinkler system for the park was approved. However, the lowest bid was $10,000 over the budgeted amount. He said the city is going to try and install a sprinkler system in-house. Trees will be planted first this fall and the flowers will be planted next spring.


City Manager Lee said the community is using the city hall building as it was envisioned. Pop-up events such as the splash party where kids were sprayed with fire hoses will continue to be held by the city. There will be an evening where food trucks will be available, there will be a music event in November and a local resident plans to use the great hall to photograph children with Santa Claus.







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