The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission recently OK-ed revised plans for a Publix on South Broad Street after long discussions.
The rezoning request for the site, formerly home to the old Mt. Vernon restaurant, was the subject of contention last month as several residents said the proposed plans violated the vision for this area of town.
“What happens on South Broad Street is really important to St. Elmo because it’s our connection to the rest of the city,” former city transportation engineer Bertran Kuyrkendall said last month. “Everyone’s really excited for the vision for South Broad; it could become like a Main Street or a Cherokee Boulevard. But if we can’t stick with form-based code, it could put the whole area in jeopardy.”
The request went before the planning commission in mid-June where planning commission members voted to delay an ultimate decision to give time for the developer to build a new plan through a variance of typical UGC zoning requirements.
The commission members said they would be likely to pass the variance if the developer showed he worked closely with residents when developing the new site plan.
The developer returned to planning commission July 9 with a revised plan which was then passed through a split-vote.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the motion went forward after the developer presented several property changes that kept it in closer compliance with the original property type. These changes included retail shops along one entrance and previously-made changes to include natural screening and a pedestrian-friendly layout.
“I made the motion because I felt the variance met more than the minimum requirements for granting a variance and from the information I gathered from attending all the meetings and felt the development team made great efforts toward compromise and incorporated many of their ideas and suggestions,” Planning Commission member and City Councilman Darrin Ledford said.
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. Alina has over three years of journalism experience including time spent with CNN and 2nd & Church, a magazine based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah.