Council ordinance considered to protect scenic views
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Chattanooga's scenic views and historic landscapes bring in tourists from all over the world.
Now, there's a push to protect the scenery many would say is Chattanooga's number one attraction.
Chattanooga wouldn't be called the Scenic City without Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Orchard Knob, Stringer's Ridge and Billy Goat Hill.
Come Monday, the planning commission will mull over whether to ask council to require special permits to put up anything taller than about two and a half stories.
Monthly $775 to $950 will buy you nine foot ceilings, hardwood or treated floors and granite countertops in every apartment at Hayden Place on Stringer's ridge.
But 16 units look out on Signal Mountain.
"It's wonderful, you can see everything! You've got a nice view of the mountain over here," says resident David Gribble.
"If I'd built condos I wouldn't have built this tall," says John Wise, developer.
Developer John Wise guesstimates some units rise 50 feet above ground level.
"Apartments are pretty standard, you go three stories. It's the only way to make the economies work," says Wise.
But City Councilman Peter Murphy says they and the Bragg Point Townhomes on Missionary Ridge would have needed permission had his scenic ordinance been enforced.
"It's not that you can't. It's just in these areas, these very limited areas, we're going to have a discussion if someone wants to put up a cell tower or a skyscraper," says Councilman Murphy.
Really, anything taller than 35 feet and within 1,000 feet of the defined bases of those five historic and scenic high points.
Harrison resident Tuesday Hayes wonders what the big deal is.
"I guess it depends on where you live. If you live behind the building, yeah that'd be a problem," says Hayes.
"We've needed it for a long time, actually once you lose something you can't get it back," says Kay Parish with Friends of Chickamauga.
Developer John Wise agrees, in principle saying scenic restrictions could be as effective as the C-7 use rules for the North Shore.
"It handcuffs you to a certain degree, but it also makes the playing field level," says Wise.
The key, he says is holding every developer, or development to the same standard.
John Wise believes any ordinance the council might pass could give developers up to a year before taking effect, so they wouldn't have to scrap any plans already in play.
Once the planning commission says yes or no, city council could vote on it next month, or in January.