After getting complaints about lack of public input, the leader of a Hixson development announced Wednesday evening that members of the public are invited to a community meeting tonight.
“We are excited to be able to share what we have done to accommodate some of the concerns about the project,” Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Company, said in a prepared statement. “We will have a document ready for those interested that addresses some of the requests, and we continue to look for public input about the project."
The development has created controversy in recent months, and Wednesday, a group of citizens expressed opposition to a proposed multiuse development, which will include residential, office, shopping, dining and recreational spaces.
What: Meeting about 153-area Hixson development
When: Thursday, Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Hixson Community Center
Comments: Horton requested that anyone who would like to comment on the project should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Horton met with city and state traffic experts Wednesday, and at about the same time, a group of community members held a press conference to express opposition.
The group then tried to go into the traffic meeting, but Horton and other leaders turned them away because it wasn't a public meeting.
The original plan called for about 250 apartments, 250,000 square feet of commercial office space, and stand-alone parcels for retail and dining surrounded by pedestrian-friendly green space, according to Nooga.com archives.
But in May, Horton also withdrew his rezoning application for the project so that he could modify his plan, he said Wednesday.
He has now revised the plan and said he wants to let interested community members know about the changes.
He did not go into specifics in his news release, but said in the prepared statement that the details would be addressed at the meeting with the document and that several people involved in the project would be there to meet with citizens in small groups.
“We think we can get better input by doing it that way," he said.
Gregory Vickrey with the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy said those who oppose the development do so for environmental, economic and public safety reasons.
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.
The project has been compared to Hamilton Place, but in May, Horton said that wasn't an apt comparison.
People who oppose the project said the changes to the hillside would be dramatic, but Horton disagrees and has said that they won’t be.
On Wednesday, opposition leaders also said that tonight's meeting is a vain attempt to engage the public and that they have been ignored for months.
Although some oppose the approximately $100 million project—which involves a190-acre tract of land along Highway 153 from Stoneridge Drive to Boy Scout Road—Horton said Mayor Ron Littlefield and others support the plan.
“The development of this site goes back many years, and it has been discussed and studied,” Littlefield said, according to a prepared statement from the developer. “The plans have been modified and massaged. I think it’s time to move it forward. Both the developers and the community deserve the decision and direction from the government on this project.”
Councilwoman Pam Ladd, whose District 3 covers the proposed development site, said she has been encouraged by the developer’s progress, according to the release.
“I have given the developer a list of people to contact, and I know he has done so,” she said. “Some of the people on the list refused to meet with him. But I am going to say that the developer has been very fair with people, and he has created a revised plan to accommodate the concerns of Hixson residents. He has done his due diligence.”
Also on Wednesday, Hixson resident Linden Stricker, who is a retired banker, said Horton has been working behind the scenes to gather support from politicians, many of whom are as directly impacted by the development as nearby residents.
"It makes you wonder who they represent," the developer or the residents, he said.