Wednesday, October 24, 2012
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency is gathering input from community members on development in the Summit area near Apison Pike, starting with a recent meeting at the Summit of Softball that involved property owners.
“This area has changed with the interchange [at Exit 9 on I-75] — it has become more accessible,” said Karen Rennich, deputy director of the RPA. “We know that this is an important gateway to the community and to Chattanooga. This [meeting] is a consensus on how growth can occur in the area.”
Part of the Summit community has been annexed into the city of Chattanooga, effective Dec. 31 of this year. The area has also had some rezoning requests to transition certain properties to a commercial zoning, and with the widening of Apison Pike from Old Lee Highway to Ooltewah-Ringgold Road scheduled to take place at the end of 2013, Rennich said a guide needs to be in place as the area inevitably develops.
The recent land use meeting was implemented in order to inform area property owners of possible development and to gather their input, she said.
“Some folks were really open to a wide-scale commercial development; some folks were a little more conservative, saying, ‘Some of that’s OK but I don’t necessarily want it near my house,’” Rennich reported.
At the meeting, RPA representatives led discussion groups with property owners, who gathered around large-scale maps of the area in question. They discussed possible growth that could occur in the area, from industry to residential neighborhoods to retail development.
Property owners spouted concerns including safety issues and a rising crime rate if more apartments or commercial areas are built, traffic problems connected with more housing and commercial development, and property values decreasing or increasing, among other things.
Rennich said from what property owners told her, some would like to see more restaurants and grocery stores closer to their homes.
The meeting was the first in a series. At a yet-undecided date in November, the RPA will host a second forum in which representatives will present different plans for development. The November meeting will be open to areawide public input, including residents, property owners and other stakeholders.
“Because the area is a gateway, we know that folks will be interested,” said Rennich.
RPA will use the feedback to help come up with a plan for the Summit community’s development, which will be presented to the Regional Planning Commission in January, she said. The Planning Commission will then pass a recommendation to approve or deny the plan to the Chattanooga City Council for a final decision.