UPDATE: Tuesday night, Chattanooga City Council members voted in favor of an ordinance to make the Harriet Tubman Housing Site a manufacturing zone instead of a residential zone.

The vote was 8 to 1 in favor of the change.

The ordinance included a condition that no poultry processing plants could go on the site.

In 2014, the city purchased the property in hopes of attracting new businesses to the area.

The public housing complex was demolished and the property has been vacant ever since.

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PREVIOUS STORY: The Unity Group gathered on the steps of city hall Tuesday to ask Mayor Andy Berke to pull the plug on a plan to rezone the site of the old Harriet Tubman public housing complex. The city is working through the process to rezone the property from residential to industrial, after buying it four years ago.

In 2014, the city purchased the property in hopes of attracting business to the area. The public housing complex was demolished and the property sits empty. This group is asking for the chance to weigh in on what moves in.

A chain-link fence surrounds what used to be home to the Harriet Tubman housing complex. The buildings came down in 2014, after the city purchased the property with controversial plans to bring business in.

Community leaders and members of the Unity Group gathered on the steps of City Hall asking to be heard before the property is officially rezoned in January. The city has submitted a request to have the property rezoned from residential to light industrial, the only limitations would be that the property can't be used for poultry processing and has to include a green buffer.

The Unity Group, a 50-year-old neighborhood coalition focused of social justice in the city, has some requests.

  • POSTPONE REZONING of the Harriet Tubman site until a community informed recommendation comes out of the Area 3 planning process;
  • CHOOSE A ZONING DISTRICT that allows for a mixture of uses including light manufacturing (with no negative environmental impacts), retail, commercial, and housing unless recommendations from the Area 3 plan state otherwise;
  • COOPERATE WITH EAST CHATTANOOGA STAKEHOLDERS in the creation of an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with developer(s);
  • ENSURE THAT LAND REMAINS IN PUBLIC OWNERSHIP LONG TERM (property should be leased, not sold to developer), and
  • INFORM COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS prior to any RFPs or rezoning proposals related to the redevelopment of the Tubman site

The city's Deputy Administrator for Economic Development Charita Allen did not respond to those specific requests, but said in a written statement:

"The City of Chattanooga's Economic & Community Development department has been working closely with residents and stakeholders in this neighborhood for years as we consider future uses for the former Harriet Tubman public housing property. We will continue to do so in order to determine the best possible development plan for this critically important site."

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency will take up the issue Monday in a public hearing at 1:00 in the county commission room inside the courthouse.