Sunday, October 13, 2013
North Chattanooga residents and business owners packed the Business Development Center for the recent North Chattanooga Summit organized by City councilmen Jerry Mitchell and Chip Henderson in conjunction with the North Chattanooga Chamber Council and North Shore Merchants Collective.
Attendees split off into five groups to identify the most pressing concerns relating to traffic, safety, beautification, signage and zoning.
A group of city officials was assembled to help answer questions during the process. Among the officials present were Blythe Bailey, administrator of the Department of Transportation; John Bridger, executive director of the Regional Planning Agency; urban planner Karen Hundt; Chattanooga Police Department Sector 1 Capt. Erik Tucker; Gary Hilbert, director of codes and inspection for the city; Sarah Kurtz, historic preservation planner; and Lee Norris, city Public Works Department administrator.
The group charged with beautification identified three major issues: continuity of trash service, consistency of sidewalks and improvement of aesthetics, which they called “the leading indicator of a neighborhood’s value.” Expansion of green spaces was one idea considered as a way to improve aesthetics.
The increase in the number of homeless people in the area was one issue identified in regards to safety, as were more reported incidents of car and home break-ins. A few possible solutions named include increasing police presence by working on ways to make the zones officers cover smaller, as well as increasing bike or Segway patrols, developing neighborhood watch groups and installing webcams in critical areas.
Possible ways of improving signage in the area suggested by the related group include adding way-finding signs for tourists, designating outdoor community boards for posting upcoming events, clarifying whether murals are art or signage and clarifying the process before signage can be erected.
Traffic was a hot topic at the meeting, and a possible solution identified involves adding a road near Whole Foods that connects Cherokee Boulevard to Manufacturers Road.
Group members also said they want to increase safety in the area by reducing speeding and improving the flow of traffic. There were also concerns voiced about traffic related to Publix in neighborhoods. Group members suggested a traffic study for the North Shore area.
Affordable housing was a big concern for those charged with zoning. They asked for neighborhood meetings to be organized with letters sent out to all area property owners before big development projects are approved.
Future summit events will be held to continue the discussion, said the councilmen.