UPDATE: Road to Aetna Mountain development approved - again - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Road to Aetna Mountain development approved - again

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UPDATE: A long-running disagreement between Chattanooga citizens and a development on Aetna Mountain over who would pay for a road has been resolved - for now.

The Chattanooga Industrial Development Board on Friday voted to re-approve a tax-payer funded agreement that would pay for a road to the Black Creek development on Aetna Mountain.

The 4-1 vote re-instated the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) of $9 million dollars for the 2-mile road. The TIF is part of a federal and state program.

At a hearing Monday, lawyers said that former city attorney Mike McMahan worked alone in the approval of the $9 million TIF, which could prove to be a one-half billion dollar development atop Aetna Mountain.

A news release from the Black Creek developers Friday said:

"As the developers of Black Creek, we deeply appreciate the action by the Chattanooga Industrial Development Board today, reaffirming the TIF for the project.
The Tennessee law was clear. The actions of the Chattanooga City Council and the Hamilton County Commissioner were clear. The work of the IDB today solved any issues raised by the court. Your actions cured the alleged procedural deficiencies and reaffirmed your earlier approval action.
Your decision states that Chattanooga welcomes investment that will expand our tax base without having to raise taxes, that supports our public schools and that encourages economic development in our community."

PREVIOUS STORY: A stretch of road in the Black Creek subdivision is said to have cost taxpayers $9 million as part of a federal and state program known as Tax Increment Financing or TIF.

Councilwoman Pam Ladd says, "Chattanooga will not be out of any money in this. We didn't put any money into this."

A lawsuit filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court by former planner and Chattanooga resident Helen Burns Sharp says this land doesn't qualify for such a project and the city is on the hook for the bill.

Ladd was asked by Channel 3 if the city and taxpayers lost any money on this development.

She says, "Absolutely not. If the developer fails then they have to pay it."

TIF projects are used to help redevelop areas and the funding comes from the tax value of the land.

As the property tax increases, the collected money pays for the project and is used for further development and jobs.

The total project economic plan says it will bring in both living and office spaces with about $500 million in investments.

The lawsuit alleges the Industrial Development Board held private meetings with the developer and violated the Sunshine Law.

The IDC fired back saying any meeting would fall under attorney-client privileges.

Ladd says it's a misunderstanding that could equal a hefty price tag to sort out.

"I'm always disappointed that we feel we can't communicate but have to legislate. I'm also disappointed we have to move something into an expensive process like a lawsuit."

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