Friday, July 25, 2014 · 11:56 a.m.
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Last month, developer Duane Horton spoke to a group of citizens about his plans for a new Hixson project that has been controversial. (Photo: Staff)

The day when a local development team will present their plan for a new Hixson development to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission is approaching, and an opposition group is calling for area residents to speak out on the project.

"We have just a few more days to influence whether the commission votes to recommend approval or denial of Scenic Land Company's rezoning request to the Chattanooga City Council," said an email from the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, whose members have voiced concerns with the $100,000 million project. 

If you go 

—Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission meeting, where leaders will decide whether to recommend approval of the project. 

Those in opposition to the project want concerned citizens to attend this meeting. 

It will be Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Hamilton County Courthouse, 625 Georgia Ave., fourth floor.

—A community planning meeting with the developer is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the North River Civic Center. 

According to the Chattanooga Village Facebook page, developers will provide an update on the project and answer questions. 

Developer Duane Horton of the project, which is called Chattanooga Village, will present his proposal to the commission on Dec. 10, and City Council members will vote on the issue in January, according to the email from the conservancy group. 

The next day, Dec. 11, a community meeting is scheduled for more discussion on the project. 

"Chattanooga Village will include a large number of shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment not currently in the market," a project representative said on the development's Facebook page. "We believe that the community will benefit from more store choices and new dining options, along with the extensive amenities included in the development."

A couple of weeks ago, some Hixson residents asked Scenic Land Company leaders to withdraw their rezoning proposal for the Highway 153-Boy Scout Road development and allow three more months for community input. 

They said they have gotten no response from the development team.

But project leaders said they have been taking steps to accommodate citizens' concerns. 

Horton brought in Hart Howerton, a team of design and real estate professionals, as master planning design consultants, who have a history of creating plans for clients by listening to the needs of local neighborhoods, officials with the project said. 

Last month—after reworking plans in an attempt to accommodate opposed citizens—developers submitted a rezoning request to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Horton filed the paperwork—an 11-page request that documents steps the team has taken to address community concerns, according to Nooga.com archives.

The resubmission came after Horton had previously attempted to move forward with the project, but withdrew the rezoning application in May to modify his plan further. 

Those who oppose the development do so for environmental, economic and public safety reasons, they have said. 

They are concerned about stormwater runoff, the damage to the environment and traffic flow issues. They said that the empty property in Hixson should be revamped and repurposed instead of building new developments. 

They also said that Horton has not been forthcoming enough in disclosing his plans. 

Those in opposition recently met with Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who represents the area where the project is proposed. 

"While she would not confirm her position on this development, she asked the group in attendance to provide her with a list of 'essentials for conditional zoning,' according to the email from the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy. "Late last week, we responded to her with a letter asking her to work to delay a vote and require full public disclosure of the development plans so that we may review them and provide meaningful feedback. We have not yet heard back."

Horton said he has provided additional information that addresses frequently asked questions about the project and that his rezoning request downsizes the acreage requested for C-2 zoning from 150 acres to 60, according to archives. 

He has also assured everyone this is not a plan for a mall and said he has taken steps to provide "a significant amount of land for water retention and green spaces," according to a recent prepared statement. 

The project will offer Class A housing and office space, a blend of buildings, public spaces and pedestrian-friendly areas. 

The developers have also added slopes and buffers that are 100 feet wide, which Horton said is more than three times the amount of space required by the city and is in keeping with the Hixson/North River Community Plan. 

There will be multifamily units and small offices near steeper slopes and larger buildings on lesser slopes. 

Once complete, the hilltop on Highway 153 and the majority of the site will be approximately 200 feet above Boy Scout Road, leaders said. 

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