published Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Chattanooga City Council shoots down IHOP rezoning appeal

by Cliff Hightower
The proposed IHOP on Gunbarrel Road would be identical to the new IHOP on Brainerd Road pictured here.
The proposed IHOP on Gunbarrel Road would be identical to the new IHOP on Brainerd Road pictured here.
Rachel Sauls
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How they voted

The City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday night to not allow an International House of Pancakes to be built on Gunbarrel Road. The votes were:

  • Yes: Councilman Andraé McGary, Councilman Peter Murphy and Councilwoman Deborah Scott
  • No: Councilman Jack Benson, Councilman Russell Gilbert, Councilwoman Pam Ladd, Councilman Manny Rico and Councilwoman Sally Robinson
  • Absent: Councilwoman Carol Berz

Do you agree with the decision not to allow the IHOP?

No pancakes will be served across from Panera Bread on Gunbarrel Road anytime soon.

The City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday night to not allow an International House of Pancakes restaurant to be built on Gunbarrel Road, across from the Target shopping center.

"We warned you in the beginning this was not commercial land," Councilman Jack Benson said, directing his comment toward the developer of the property.

The proposed IHOP has been controversial for several months with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission voting against allowing the land to be rezoned from office use to commercial use. Opponents of the IHOP said it went against the land-use plan, which calls for the area across from Target to be office use only.

Benson said if an IHOP came into the area it would allow other commercial businesses to come in.

But Bassam Issa, developer of the property, said Tuesday night there is already commercial businesses in the area, citing a gas station, Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A as examples.

"This Domino effect Mr. Benson has been saying isn't there," he said.

He also blasted the councilman for what he said were other examples of Benson allowing the land-use plan to be broken, saying there were seven instances over the past 10 years.

"You are not the land use protector," Issa said. "You are the land use breaker."

Michael Ledford, president of the Bella Vista Neighborhood Association, told council members he lives behind the area in question and said claims that neighbors wanted the restaurant were false.

"I'm behind the property," he said. "I don't approve of it."

In other news, the council spoke during the Legal and Legislation Committee meeting about clarifying the City Charter when it comes to recall elections. City Attorney Mike McMahan told the council the only thing it can control is how many petitions are required to be signed for a recall to occur.

Confusion over the recall provisions in the charter started last year when Mayor Ron Littlefield went to court over a recall effort.

McMahan said he would survey other similar municipalities and report back to the council how those cities handle recall efforts.

Councilman Peter Murphy, chairman of the committee, said the council would talk about the issue again in four weeks.

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KWVeteran said...

As one travels Gunbarrel Road, one is hard pressed to determine commercial vs. office zoning. So just why the harangue over IHOP being there? Maybe it's more than just zoning.

December 21, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
reallytruly said...

Give me a break, this is a joke right. One side is commerical vs. office. Gunbarrel traffic is only bad the two weeks before Christmas and when shallowford is closed

December 21, 2011 at 12:43 p.m.
01centare said...

I think it had more to do with his accent and funny sounding name.

December 21, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.
Oz said...

IHOP should try again as a public-private partnership and it will be a done deal.

December 21, 2011 at 7:59 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Jack Benson must not have been paid his "walking around" money by the IHOP developer, or Mayor Littlefield must not have wanted the pancake shop there. Jack Benson and Manny Rico are rubberstamps for Mayor Littlefield anyway.

December 21, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.
Salsa said...

We'll know for sure when we see what business eventually ends up going into this spot. Be sure to follow the money.

December 21, 2011 at 10:36 p.m.
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