Popular farm in Ooltewah could soon become a subdivision

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 5/13/2014 6:34 pm
OOLTEWAH, Tennessee(WDEF) - The pending sale of a popular place to enjoy horseback riding has become the latest example of land preservation vs. corporate dollars.

For many years, Hidden Hills Farm and Saddle Club was used for farming, horseback riding, horse boarding and summer camps for children. But it's on the verge of being sold to a developer who wants to build a subdivision.

Hidden Hills Farm and Saddle Club is run by Tara Hills and her husband Michael. They told WDEF that extended family members who actually own the property are on the verge of selling it to cash in on their investment. The owners would then be able to enjoy their retirement.

"Farm land is not worth as much as a subdivision and it's a hard thing for a family to keep farm land when the money is talking," Tara said.

A developer has offered the owners a substantial amount of money to purchase the land. According to both Tara and Michael, their extended family members don't really want to sell the property but it's hard to turn down a good offer worth millions of dollars.

"I don't think anyone really wants to see more subdivisions come in and more land lost or more green spaces destroyed. It doesn't help the overall health of a community when all it is is houses, streets," Michael said.

The couple is currently trying to keep the land from being developed by raising enough money to purchase the property themselves. But it's an uphill battle and time is running out.

"We envisioned keeping the farm land and keeping it green. But we need help doing that," Tara said.

What's happening to Hidden Hills is actually happening all over the U.S. as large acres of farm land are being purchased by wealthy developers who are looking to build subdivisions and shopping centers.

"It's been very difficult. I hate to see it happen like the way it's going because the large farmers are being pushed out," said real estate broker, Lyle Spiva.

It all comes down to growth in the area and the demand for more housing, especially when nearby companies like Volkswagen could be on the verge of hiring more people if the company announces it will build SUV's at its Chattanooga facility.

"We've got a pretty good supply of homes on the market right now but we still are need of more,"Spiva said.

If anyone wants to help Tara Hills save the land, they're encouraged to reach her through the Hidden Hills website.

She says she has no beef with her relatives selling the property. She only wishes there was a better way to ensure her relatives retirement while preserving precious land.

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