Some of the changes call for:
• A 6-foot grassy "Street Edge Zone" to "soften the edges with trees and landscaping" along Brainerd Road. The zone calls for consolidating curb cuts and parking access points that can be shared by businesses. The plan calls for one curb cut per 150 linear feet and one tree per 35 linear feet.
• Allowed in the Street Edge Zone are street lights and bus shelters. Disallowed are chain-link or slat fences, large trash receptacles and HVAC equipment.
• Inside the Street Edge Zone, the plan calls for a 12-foot "Bike/PED Zone," intended to increase pedestrian connectivity. Businesses doors may not open onto the strictly traffic walkway. The thoroughfare is to remain clear of any obstacles, and crosswalks are required at access points.
Chattanooga officials want to make an example of mile-long stretch of Brainerd Road by regulating building fronts, street edges and parking to beautify the decrepit area and create space for walkers and bikers.
The project area for what planners call the Brainerd Overlay lies between the Spring Creek and East Brainerd Road intersections and has been in the works for more than two years.
The policy's suggestions to plants trees, build sidewalks, construct parking to the rear of storefronts and ban metal buildings could gain the teeth of the law if the City Council votes to approve the measure on first reading Tuesday.
The requirements to improve the look and become more pedestrian- and bike-friendly would apply only to new businesses and existing businesses that want to expand by more than 25 percent.
But supporters say the rules and what comes of them will be looked at in other pockets of the Scenic City suffering from similarly cramped business space and lack of public access.
"You have to create a sense of place," said Councilwoman Carol Berz, who has been working on the project. "One size doesn't fit all."
The policy suggestions have been in place for two-and-a-half years and several businesses, such as Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme, IHOP and Applebee's, have rebuilt with green landscaping and sidewalks.
However, some people on Brainerd Road don't think the financial burden of improving the look of the street should fall on business owners.
"I'm all for looking nice," said Todd Matthews, owner of Midas Chattanooga. "If they're going to ask me to put out more money, that's different."
Douglas Hamm, owner of Island Point Wine & Spirits at the East Brainerd Road intersection, said he thinks the improvements could attract more business into the area, which he supports. But he doesn't plan to spend any money on upgrades in the near future.
Berz said she's received local support at the many meetings she's hosted and she's optimistic this experiment will work, since most businesses that have built in the area volunteered to make the improvements.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at email@example.com or 4323-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...