Backers of a proposed housing and business development on Aetna Mountain got the go-ahead today from the Chattanooga Industrial Development Board.
The project had already been approved by the city council and the county commission.
The key element was approval of 9-million dollars in Tax Increment Financing.
But there are objections from nearby neighbors and a former city planner.
The proposed development would include 1400 homes and even a small business center on top of Aetna Mountain.
It will be called Black Creek, although that's the name of a small stream in the valley a few miles away.
The area is undeveloped, used mostly by ATV's, and there is no road to the top.
Tax Increment Financing bonds, traditionally used for blighted areas, would provide the 9-million dollars for the road.
But, its not that simple---scores of people have organized to fight the whole idea.
The board was urged to push for more control over the long range outcome of the project.
JOHN KONVALINKA, ATTORNEY, FOR HELEN BURNS SHARP "There's nothing wrong with you being assured that you're going to have the project that's promised, if you do approve this."
Helen Burns Sharp who is a former city planner in Oregon who has made pleas to council and commissioners.
Deborah Scott agrees.
DEBORAH SCOTT, DIST, 1, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER "Existing taxpayers all over Chattanooga who also have infrastructure needs, who do not wish to pay the expense of providing city services and financing for new infrastructure for residents who are not here yet."
CHRIS RAMSEY, BOARD MEMBER "What happens if this entity, the developer, goes bankrupt..and the project is now completed? "
The attorney for developers Gary and Bobby Chazen and Doug Stein of Black Creek development responded.
GEORGE MASTERSON, ATTORNEY "It takes the risk, it comes up with the money now , and takes the risk it might not be paid back. "
In other words, Masterson says the developers, not the taxpayers would be on the hook.
Members of the Industrial Development Board passed the bond request 5-1.
But it did make one stipulation with the vote.
They want an official opinion on whether the Black Creek Project meets the state requirement for TIF funding.