A local economy booster wins a vote in city council to go all out in the rezoning of a vacant tract of land that once bore a federal slum for welfare clients.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7

City council vote 7 to 1 tonight to designate the former Harriet Tubman housing development site as M-1, or hard-core manufacturing. The city has spent more than F$7 million on buying the site and clearing dozens of red-brick apartment blocks.

Officials say they’d like to bring industry and business and the prospects of more employment.

Free market analysis

The vote opens the way for at least part of the site to obtain a prospective buyer that might lead other businesses to build and operate among poor Chattanoogans in low-rent houses.

Ken Smith speaks as if the most dreadful prospect for the 44-acre plat is a return of welfare state recipients massed in a depressed sector. The U.S. housing development concept was “a bad experiment *** that [turned] out bad results,” he says. “Please do not let the site come back as this type of project. The neighborhood asked this. *** This is a detriment to our area.”

Mr. Smith heads the Avondale neighborhood association and is a proponent of East Chattanooga, dully monikered as “Area 3” — a part of town between Missionary Ridge and the Tennessee River east-to-west, and Highway 153 and Memorial hospital north-to-south.

Mr. Smith speaks in favor of the manufacturing label because that is what prospective buyers have demanded. He likes the “new strategy” sought by prospective buyers of the city property.

Mr. Smith wants to do “economic stimulus for the area. We want to try to being in opportunity, a project, that will help employ the people in the area, want to have to raise incomes, the living standards and ignite other commercial development, some type of development that will permeate long term, have a good residual value” that spurs even more commercial activity, maybe even the need for more dwellings nearby.

“We would like to attract industry,” lines of business that would come in and “trigger industry development, not just one particular project, not just one particular company, but a whole industry.”

“This long-term, long-game planning is what hoping to see. We’re hoping to see some kind of stimulus come from this project.” To get that, the zoning should be M-1, with buffers to help industry to fit into a residential area..

To make sure everyone gets it, Mr. Smith circles back to his main idea: “Residual multiplier effect” bring benefit for years and years to come.”  “Thing long-term, think long gain, think economic impact.”

Limits on types of industry

Mr. Bridger says conditions include limits on ugly, noisy, smelly business such as glass furnaces, boiler works, foundries, rolling mills, smelting, junk and salvage yard, quarries, stockyards, “adult” establishments, asphalt plants, cement plants, open air markets and waste management facilities, and any like them.

Against the M-1 zoning is Dr. Everlina Holmes, who is part of a council for Area 3. She urges a rezoning vote delay “to give citizens a sense of ownership in the plan *** and promote a sense of community among people who can share common goals.” Don’t add to existing “unbelievable” levels of “distrust, apathy and cynicism,” she urges.

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