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RPA, community re-envision North Hamilton County

As the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency begins collecting input from local residents as part of its Growing Forward revisioning process, attendees at the RPA’s recent workshop held at North River Civic Center expressed skepticism that the workshop would be helpful in creating the type of community they desire.

Linda Walker said she had attended similar city planning meetings over the past decade that proved useless.

“Frazier Avenue has turned into an eyesore,” she said, expressing disappointment in city planning efforts conducted there. “Nothing that the people said ended up happening.”

RPA officials responded that funding does not allow for all the residents’ wishes to be granted, and that visioning processes such as Growing Forward help to identify the community’s priorities and where money should be spent.

Mary Lou Vaught complained that money is often allocated to projects she believes the community does not need as badly as others, such as bike routes.

“Don’t give me a bike route, fill the potholes in our roads,” she said.

Attendees placed sticky notes displaying their ideas on how the RPA can physically meet the four broad-based goals it established after gathering public input at events such as the Chattanooga Market and Riverbend. The goals are: the creation of complete communities, connected communities, healthy and safe communities and unique and attractive communities.

One citizen suggested establishing policies that would require builders and businesses to pay for roads and sidewalks nearby.

“The parks are not used,” said one citizen, who went on to ask why the government continues to build more parks.

Another wants to create a requirement that existing buildings be reused instead of constructing new ones, avoiding the current problem in areas such as Northgate and Red Bank of old buildings sitting empty. It was also suggested that old buildings be converted to mixed-use developments.

Another resident requested a policy that would keep schools in communities, as opposed to larger schools far away from where students live.

In relation to community connectivitiy, one resident suggested completing the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway in the Hixson and Soddy-Daisy areas in order to complete that section of the Great Eastern Trail.

Another touched again on the topic of neighborhood schools, suggesting walkable school neighborhoods be created in North Hamilton County.

One resident wants sidewalks in their neighborhood at Lupton Drive, and another suggested fewer bike trails, citing the country’s aging population.

“Maintain scenic beauty,” one citizen said in relation to creating a unique and attractive community, adding that scenic beauty is a big draw to the community.

Another suggested keeping multi-family developments out of single-family communities.

A Lupton City resident proposed that the city’s old mill site be cleaned up so it would be more attractive to developers and business owners.

Meeting organizers said the information gathered during this workshop and others held around the area will set the foundation for the next two steps in the revisioning process: developing a planning strategy, and building the future with policy and code updates.

There is no timeline yet on those steps.