Thursday, January 23, 2014
Numerous chairs sat empty Jan. 13 as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission approved the proposal for Hillocks Farm, a 190-acre development off Highway 153 that will include apartments, retail and office space.
The room was silent when city planners asked if anyone wished to speak in opposition to the proposal.
This was a drastic change from earlier proposals for the development, which has drawn opposition from local residents who packed Chattanooga City Council meetings where the proposal was previously denied last year.
Planning Commissioner and District 1 City Councilman Chip Henderson said the change is evidence of the developer’s willingness to work with the community and make adjustments to his plans based on their input.
“I think it’s a testimony that one of the most vocal opponents is here to speak in favor of this development today,” Henderson said, speaking of Jerry Jones, a local resident.
“We’ve beat it down to a development that’s about as good as it’s going to get,” Jones told the planning commission.
Even this time around, the RPA rejected the Hillocks Farm proposal Jan. 7 based on road and traffic concerns.
Planning and District 6 Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham stated his support for the project, adding that existing challenges with the vicinity’s roadways and intersections will still be there even if the development does not come to fruition.
Horton said his plans have undergone five major revisions since they were first proposed, and he has participated in 20 community meetings, including six with the Hixson Community Review Committee that was formed by Henderson, District 2 City Councilman Jerry Mitchell and District 3 City Councilman Ken Smith.
“We have done all that can be done,” Horton said.
The Hillocks Farm proposal will go before the city council for a vote in February. If approved, the development will progress in stages and will not reach its full capacity until 2020. It would be comprised of 280 apartments, 250,000 square feet of office space and 500,000 square feet of retail space.