published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Developer says project will help Hixson

Hixson residents listen to developer Duane Horton Monday at the North River Civic Center.
Hixson residents listen to developer Duane Horton Monday at the North River Civic Center.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Stormwater and traffic problems would be mitigated or even improved by a proposed Hamilton Place mall-sized development on Highway 153 near U.S. Highway 27, the developer said at a community meeting Monday night.

Duane Horton, a developer with Scenic Land Co., pledged to contain any rain runoff and limit traffic problems from his proposed retail, office and apartment complex.

"There are going to be developments any time you have a growing community," he told about 200 area residents at Monday's meeting. "It's a matter of making those developments the best that they can be."

The area will be developed eventually, he said, either through a number of disjointed projects or this single cohesive plan.

The plans unveiled by Horton include a 15-building apartment complex, space for a large office campus, and nearly a dozen retail buildings for stores and commercial businesses. Horton's proposed project would have only two entrances off Highway 153 to help limit traffic congestion.

"This is a chance to be proactive," he said. "I do believe we're going to add value to the community."

Horton said the project would be implemented in phases with apartments and stores being built first.

Despite his assurances, area residents continue to raise environmental, traffic and economic concerns with the project.

Other shopping centers along Highway 153 have empty storefronts, raising concerns about whether a new center would bring in new business, or simply draw retailers and commercial businesses from other developments.

Leveling the hillside also could scar the landscape and cause stormwater runoff. Without proper water routing, as many as 1 million gallons of polluted water an hour could pour off the mountain during rainfall, according to Gregory Vickrey, director of the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy.

Before Horton's project can move forward, it must gain zoning approval from the Chattanooga City Council. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, which advises the city on zoning matters, will consider Horton's request in April. If approved, Horton said, work could begin in the spring of 2013.

Contact Carey O'Neil at coneil@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525. Follow him at twitter.com/careyoneil.

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