published Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

A reach for smart growth

It shouldn't be hard, or controversial, to set about creating a new countywide urban growth plan for the next decade, and beyond. Hamilton County may get just one bite at the ripening economic apple that now hangs before us, so that work is essential.

In fact, to make the most of our current growth opportunities and sustain the economic momentum now in our hands, it will be imperative to assure smart, orderly growth to cope with Hamilton County's pending wave of commercial and residential development.

The greener, more organized and more sensitive our growth is to quality of life and the efficiency and aesthetics of our built environment, the greater the return will be in new investment, formation of capital, quality jobs, high tech innovation and next-level opportunities. This opportunity should not be squandered.

But go tell it to the County Commission. Its members have dodged the need for creation of a charter county government capable of providing countywide urban services. They have rejected consideration of cost-efficient consolidation of major urban services with the city. And now they're only begrudgingly backing up to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's latest proposal, an update of the county's 2001 state-mandated growth-boundary agreement among the county's 10 municipalities and the County Commission.

The state's 1998 growth planning law designates the county's various mayors and leaders of its largest utilities and the largest Chamber of Commerce are designated as members of the coordinating committee charged with updating new urban growth boundaries if a member requests an update of areas that may be annexed. The county mayor is required to reconvene the coordinating committee within 60 days upon a member's request.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger, however, wrongly required Littlefield on Monday to submit a specific proposal for an urban growth-boundary amendment before he would he meet his statutory duty to reconvene the growth boundary coordinating committee.

Leading up to that point, Commissioner Fred Skillern denigrated both Littlefield and his proposal, further embellishing his myopic view that the only county residents worth his consideration are those who reside in unincorporated areas or his home community of Soddy-Daisy. Never mind Littlefield's position as the leader of half the county's population and the city's vital role in the 24-7 infrastructure and urban amenities that attract and support the region's new growth.

Similarly, Commissioner Chester Bankston gave his knee-jerk support to an anti-city group's vision of creating an 11th municipality in Hamilton County. The group's goal, according to its president, Chris Matthews, is to avoid the distant possibility of annexation by the city and the fair burden of sharing in the tax base the city needs (absent the county's reluctance to provide urban services) to support the infrastructure we all require for jobs, shopping and the city's renaissance downtown appeal.

Ironically, Matthews' proposed town, "Hamilton," would lie outside even the amended urban-boundary growth plan that Littlefield suggested Tuesday as a starting point for a new urban-growth plan. Hamilton, if it ever gets off the ground (and it shouldn't), would have a large swath of sparsely populated land whose residents would have to bear a pretty hefty tax just to take care of the road, fire and police services the town would have to provide once it incorporated.

The bare-bones proposal Littlefield gave Coppinger Tuesday "for discussion" of an expanded urban-growth boundary would reach 1,000 feet north of State Route 312 (Mahan Gap Road, Harrison Pike, Snow Hill and Birchwood Pike) and extend northward and westward parallel to the row of those roads from the Bradley County line to Chickamauga Lake. It would encompass all lands south of that line not now in the growth boundaries of Chattanooga and Collegedale.

North of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga's suggested growth boundary would "generally follow" Sequoyah Access Road to Soddy-Daisy and include all land south of Soddy-Daisy and Lakesite. That would encompass Middle Valley, which should have been annexed years ago.

New growth boundaries are necessary to bring some order and planning vision as the anticipated growth of the next decade takes roots. It's plainly more sensible, after all, to plan ahead for the cost-efficient installation of infrastructure and orderly growth, than to stumble along blindly without a road map and end up with needless congestion and sprawl -- without adequate sewers and streets, schools and firehalls, ballfields and parks, and well-placed commercial hubs.

Convincing county commissioners and residents in the path of growth that planning is better than no planning has traditionally proven hard here. It's past time for that to change. Tax-equity and fair burden-sharing for infrastructure for growth, and the jobs it brings for all, require a more united effort. County officials residents of unincorporated areas need to recognize that.

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timbo said...

SMART GROWTH???? What a misnomer. There is nothing smart about county residents going along with this sort of stupidity. For every thing that Chattanooga provides, the county residents provide city tax revenue by buying products in the city limits. They also provide employees for the businesses in the community.

The false efficeincies of metro governmenet or combination of services can be seen in what happened when the school systems were combined. No one was laid off and no savings were seen for the school system. There was however a $100 million savings for the city. Did you get a tax rebate? The reason you didn't is that they spent every dime on downtown development which operates with a huge tax deficit. (collected taxes versus service on the $500 million debt). By the way Harry, that was talked about in a front page article by Dave Flessner several years ago. Metro is a bad deal for the county.

County residents should not have to pay for any more city boondoggles like downtown or VW. The reason that county residents have not agreed to "planning" in the past it is dominated by the city and is set up for benefit. It is all about the city power structure getting their hands on the rest of the county. That is all that this is about.

SMART GROWTH????? This is dumb growth being advertised by a liberal, progressive, contingent of power structure types including cheer leaders like Harry Austin.

October 19, 2011 at 4:49 p.m.


THIS NEWS IS RELATED TO "WHITES AREN’T WELCOME IN AMERICA ANY LONGER" !!! <== OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009. Facts about lunatic ZIONIST Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against white population.




October 19, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.
lightkeeper said...

I wish Ron Littlefield would have been mayor years ago, his vision for future growth is whats needed for this county thats at least thirty years behind other metro areas. Creating more little cities in the county is absolutly ridiculous, this being a Chattanooga metro county and thats a fact no matter how hard you try, can never be changed. The longer the county and some of its citizens fight against progress for their own selfish misguided reasons, the longer it will complicate comprehensive planning for urban services and greater will be the chances for explosive growth, unplanned congestion and major gaps in infrastructure, schools, firehalls, and safe roads. Such planning should already be underway to make the Chattanoog area the most attractive city in the nation.

October 20, 2011 at 3:45 a.m.
dfclapp said...

"Smart Growth plans," from leaders of Chattanooga, often seem limited to enhancing downtown and paying for white elephant pet projects that do little for outlying regions of the County. With the atttitude that what is good for the city is good for everyone else, how, exactly, is the other half of the county being developed except in the way farm animals are nurtured for the slaughter? It doesn't take much to see that "partnership" means that others get to spend time in the cage with the 800 lb. gorilla who will take their money and control their lives.

Metro is a great idea. I've heard both city and county leaders here endorse the concept, though not for publication. The problem is in how the power to decide and tax is shared. Unfortunately, the only record the city of Chattanooga has established is that it does not play well with others, and, when operating jointly with the County, squabbling endlessly about any dollar spent outside the city limits of Chattanooga (e.g. the Sales Tax Agreement). This is not a good foundation for a successful metro government in our area.

October 20, 2011 at 5:56 a.m.
librul said...

The only elements of "orderly growth planning" that ever rise to the surface in Chattanooga are chainsaws, bulldozers, paving machines and strip mall developers - all pillars of burgeoning sprawl. If all the space taken up by previously "orderly developed" land in this backwater burb could be gathered together, we could have a sizable city within a city. If the "planners" were free to perform the kind of work they were taught in school, Chattanooga would be the envy of all. As it is, it's just another tumor on the land.

October 20, 2011 at 8:42 a.m.
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