published Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Chattanooga developer tries again to rezone 15-acre Hixson site

  • photo
    Win Pratt, left, and his father, James Pratt, talk in front of their Stonebrook Neighborhood development in Ooltewah in 2010.
    Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga developer James Pratt is trying for a second time to rezone more than 15 acres adjacent to Amber Brook Gardens to build more single-family houses in Hixson.

In his newest attempt heard by planners Monday, Pratt wants to change the property from a low-density R-1 zone to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow more flexibility in adding on to his subdivision.

In September, the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission recommended the city rezone the site for the requested PUD. The recommendation was to rezone the 15 acres as separate from Amber Brook Gardens, though the two are connected.

That rezoning met opposition from Amber Brook Gardens residents, who said they did not wish to live near town homes, which were part of Pratt's plan if the rezoning were approved.

The planning commission's recommendation to approve the rezoning never went to a vote in the Chattanooga City Council because Pratt withdrew his application in light of that feedback and a pre-existing deed restriction on town homes on the 15 acres.

Before Pratt's involvement, a 2005 request to have the same 15 acres rezoned from R-1 to R-T/Z Residential Townhouse Zone passed the planning commission but was voted down in the City Council.

That same year, the PUD zoning for Amber Brook Gardens was approved in the City Council. The subdivision has since been developed, with 102 single-family homes sitting on almost 13 of 41 available acres. Pratt later bought Amber Brook Gardens and the 15 acres to its north.

In Monday's planning commission meeting, Pratt again asked officials to recommend that the adjacent 15 acres be approved for rezoning.

Larry Grohn, the District 4 City Councilman and a planning commission member, asked whether Pratt intends to "cram" as many homes as he can into the land if it's rezoned. Grohn said the proposed dwelling unit per acre density of 3.5 seems too high.

Pratt said Grohn's concern is legitimate and agreed to knock down the number of single-family homes intended for the development from 52 to a maximum of 48, to make the maximum density at 3.1 homes per acre, equal to the density that the commission recommended for approval in September.

No one spoke out against the development, but one local resident is concerned with rain runoff from Big Ridge and the ability of Cassandra Smith Road to accommodate traffic from 48 new residences.

Pratt said runoff issues are being addressed as crews work at Amber Brook Gardens. Commissioners had no word on whether Cassandra Smith Road would receive attention if the rezoning is approved. A sidewalk will have to be built along the road where PUD zoning exists, if it's approved.

The inclusion of the 15-acre PUD would increase the subdivision -- including Amber Brook Gardens -- to 56 acres with the possibility of a total of 154 single-family homes, estimated to be worth $200,000 to $300,000.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposed rezoning at its April 8 meeting.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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