Chattanooga City Council members voted to defer a decision to approve a proposed three-way land swap between the city, the Department of Education and the Chattanooga Housing Authority during their agenda session Tuesday night.
Councilman Jack Benson said he had been the recipient of a "firestorm of resistance" regarding the deal, which would transfer Dogwood Manor from the city to the housing authority, the site of former Poss Homes from the housing authority to the school system, and 6.25 acres of the East Brainerd Elementary School site to the city.
"This is objectionable to our community and not to the advantage of this city," Benson said. "If we postpone this a week or two, we could make some changes to this to make it more viable to be passed."
Benson said the majority of objections were to the possibility of the Chattanooga Housing Authority building public housing on the East Brainerd site. Were the deal to take place, the former site of Poss Homes would be transformed by the school system into a football stadium and athletic facility for Howard School of Academics and Technology, whose facilities have been outdated for several years.
Hamilton County School Board member George Ricks attended the meeting and said the board had not yet discussed the deal as a whole. Ricks, who represents the district that includes Howard, said he thinks the board would be in favor of the swap.
"I think the board would be sensitive to the issue that we need this and know that the need for it is there," he said. "It will probably be brought up at the next board meeting."
According to a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press report, many school board members said they did not know details of the swap. The report also details the disappointed reactions of several Hamilton County commissioners, the entity that approves budget funding for the school system, who said they had not heard of the swap until a few days ago.
Councilman Andraé McGary said he was surprised at the motion to defer, following months of planning the deal between the parties involved.
"It's quite interesting to me that now here we are at this moment being asked to put this off for a week, and I'm seeing that all three parties have come to this point thus far and said this is a workable arrangement that we should vote on as is," he said.
The council will discuss the resolution next week.