The way city officials are evaluating and supporting Scenic City Land Company’s proposed Boy Scout Road development in Hixson is very troubling. In spite of the proposal’s numerous inconsistencies, flaws and use of soon-to-be outdated water retention methods, it seems as if the request for rezoning and development will be allowed.
Duane Horton of SCLC has been introducing and reintroducing changes to his plan for months. It isn’t apparent that anyone (including Horton) is exactly sure what is being proposed at this time. At every city and community meeting I have been to, there are additions and changes to SCLC’s proposal. I’m not sure if this is because of a lack of preparation or an attempt to bait and switch. Regardless, SCLC appears unprepared, unprofessional and haphazardly dealing with a permitting process that is in place to protect people and the environment.
Equally as troubling is that our elected officials would vote on an application they had not read. On Dec. 10, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission approved the SCLC rezoning applications that they received minutes prior to voting. Indeed, the plan SCLC presented had elements in it that had not been seen by the public or the planning commission. At a recent community meeting on Dec. 17, moderated by Councilwoman Pam Ladd, it was revealed that neither SCLC nor the RPA had considered TWRA’s State Wildlife Action Plan, which lists a significant portion of the proposed development as high-priority forest block.
Horton has repeatedly boasted that this development will contain surface water runoff controls to maintain 1 inch of rainwater on site for 72 hours and that this will "exceed any project that he knows of." What he isn’t boasting about is that these controls will not meet the impending federal runoff reduction requirement to retain 1 inch rainfall on site indefinitely—nor will his controls meet the RPA’s recommendation of holding 1.6 inches of water for 72 hours. Regardless, any statement about the effectiveness of SCLC’s runoff controls is premature given that neither a hydrology or soils study nor a grading plan has been done on the site (despite the RPA's recommendation). The extent of runoff during construction and operational phases of this proposed development cannot be accurately predicted without such studies.
Horton and his cohorts continually refer to this as a responsible development. The responsible thing to do would be to improve and use the more than 600,000 square feet of unused developments in Hixson. Indeed, a responsible company would help keep our Scenic City’s land from such development.
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