City Council focused on two city limits issues during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Wildwood Lifestyle Center deannexation
A deannexation resolution encountered roadblocks during the council meeting after some council members expressed confusion over the reasoning for the request.
The Institute of Health and Healing filed the request for its nonprofit, the Wildwood Lifestyle Center, over tax and zoning concerns stemming from a series of moves made involving the property over the past few decades.
The Wildwood Lifestyle Center spans several hundred acres on the Tennessee–Georgia border with some property that now dips into the Chattanooga city limits on one end. In 1989, the nonprofit’s 390 acres close to Chattanooga were annexed into the city.
As the nonprofit’s employees grew in number, the Wildwood Lifestyle Center needed to expand the housing offered to new staff members. To do this, the nonprofit requested rezoning in 2005 but was denied and therefore unable to complete the housing development.
Wildwood Lifestyle Center attorney Cynthia Tolbert asserted during the meeting that these needs are still not being met and that the nonprofit is now having to turn away staff because of a lack of housing. Tolbert also referenced infrastructure issues the Wildwood Lifestyle Center has experienced because of zoning confusion.
Tolbert said that the nonprofit experienced fire damage to one of its buildings while two local fire departments who responded disputed over which jurisdiction the fire was located in. Tolbert also communicated concerns that some of the services the Wildwood Lifestyle Center pays for through taxes are not being carried out efficiently.
Tolbert said that the nonprofit met with city leaders, who recommended deannexation to fix these issues.
“This is why we are requesting that they be deannexed,” Tolbert said. “It is detrimentally affecting their ability to provide a service.”
Following Tolbert’s explanation of Wildwood Lifestyle Center’s position, the council members tried to clarify where the advice given to the Wildwood Lifestyle Center had come from.
District 6 Councilwoman/Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Carol Berz asked the most questions during the meeting but focused on why the nonprofit needed to deannex, as many of the issues are the responsibility of the county, not the city.
Officials finished the meeting with the understanding that more communication is needed because matters were still unclear.
“Our next step is to make sure that we’re properly cognizant of their issues and they’re properly educated as to how to get to where they want to be,” Berz said. “It probably won’t get voted on next week because we’re dealing with some misinformation.”
Lookout Mountain Conservancy annexation
The Lookout Mountain Conservancy petitioned for the resolution allowing the annexation of a few parcels of land owned by the conservancy into Chattanooga city limits because of the threat of “endangerment” if the property is not annexed.
The public hearing for the annexation was scheduled for the Oct. 24 City Council meeting but later postponed, as the resolution must go to the Planning and Zoning Commission before a public hearing can happen.
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville.