With an eye to future redevelopment in the city, the East Ridge Planning Commission met Wednesday evening to formally recommend to the City Council amending portions of two ordinances dealing with commercial development.
The commission was in agreement that the maximum height on zoning in a planned commercial center district (C4) be increased from 35 feet to 72 feet.
Newly-appointed commissioner Mickey Spence asked if increasing the height of buildings might adversely affect the fire department’s ability to protect such structures. Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer assured Spence that new buildings would be equipped with stand pipes and that the city currently has a ladder truck with the capability of fighting a fire in a structure that tall. In addition, the city is a member of Tri-State Mutual Aid, which could call on additional ladder companies from surrounding fire services.
The vote was 3-0 to recommend to the council to change the ordinance. Commissioners Scott Miller and Ron Renegar were absent.
In a second action, the commission voted unanimously to recommend an amendment addressing the distance a commercial structure must be “set back” from a property line. Currently that distance is 25 feet. The recommendation is to reduce that “set back” to five feet.
Custer told the board that in an effort to make the commercial district more pedestrian friendly, the city has embarked on a project to widen Ringgold Road by installing sidewalks on one side of the street and a multi-modal path on the other. The multi-modal path would accommodate cyclists as well as pedestrians.
Custer said the reduced set back would allow a business to be accessed directly from the sidewalk, giving the city more of a downtown feeling.
“It’s not gonna happen overnight,” Custer said. “We’re trying to see what eh city might look like 20 or 30 years into the future.”
Custer said there are currently two developers who want to build closer to Ringgold Road.
Commissioner Casey Tuggle noted that the multi-modal project on Ringgold Road – which does include a component to improve and manage drainage along the commercial corridor – will allow the city to leverage future state grant money to help finance further improvements extending east.
In the past, city officials said construction along Ringgold Road from McBrien Road to South Seminole could begin next spring. Officials said the project could take two years to complete and cost as much as $10 million.