The East Ridge Planning Commission denied the request of a local businessman to rezone property near the Bachman Tunnels so he could build an apartment complex.
P.J. Patel with Shreenathji Properties proposed to build an 80-unit “high end” apartment complex on 4.8 acres at 1023 South Seminole Drive. He said the 1,100 square-foot apartments would rent for about $1,200 and the complex would have amenities such as a pool, workout center, jogging track and banquet center.
“We don’t have nice apartments in East Ridge,” said Patel, who also owns a convenience store adjacent to the proposed development. “I want to get a good crowd.”
“A good crowd” was the concern of numerous people who attended the meeting opposed to the rezoning, as the issue of traffic congestion along the heavily traveled artery feeding Ringgold Road dominated the discussion.
James Citty, whose family operates an awning business in the same block of the proposed development, told the planning commission that the traffic conditions on South Seminole during the morning rush hour are a serious problem. Citty said crews leaving his business “have a heck of a time” getting their trucks out of the lot in the morning.
“(The apartments) sound like a great idea,” Citty said, “but it’s in the wrong location.”
The commission agreed, voting 4-1, to deny the request.
Chairman Mike Chauncey told Patel that he could plead his case before the East Ridge City Council, which makes the ultimate decision on rezoning issues. He urged Patel to attend a meeting on Wednesday at the community center where concerned citizens will sit down with a management company that runs Sweetbay Apartments to discuss issues dealing with apartment complexes in the city.
As a business owner, Patel’s perspective on traffic differed from the perspective of the planning commission. Patel said that 600 cars a day leave South Seminole to purchase items at his convenience store. He believes traffic is not as large an issue as was portrayed during the meeting. Patel said he may undertake a traffic study on the road to provide more data for city officials as it pertains to rezoning the property.
Planning commission member Casey Tuggle said he once rented a house on John Ross Road and the heavy traffic along the road prompted him to move away.
“All of East Ridge is a traffic problem,” Tuggle said.
Tuggle said that he owns rental property in East Ridge and that there is nothing worth renting in the city. Later, he clarified his statement by adding that his rental houses, along with others in East Ridge, are nice. What makes them not worth renting is dealing with traffic along main arteries and some of the secondary roads.
Kenny Custer, the city’s Director of Community Services, told planning commission members that the regional planning agency had no issues with rezoning the South Seminole property to allow for apartments. Custer said that he had worked with commercial developers for several years to get a project off the ground on the property. He has had no success.
_ The East Ridge Beer Board met Monday afternoon to discuss the idea of amending a city ordinance that requires businesses that sell alcohol be no closer than 250 feet from a church or school.
Beer board member Earl Wilson said that the city is losing out on opportunities to recruit restaurants along Ringgold Road because of the restriction. He made a motion to reduce the space to 50 feet. The motion failed on a 2-2-1 vote with beer board member Charlie Snyder abstaining. Wilson and Carnell Storie voted in favor of the measure, while Chairman Gregg Shipley and Leonard Ezell opposed the change.
Shipley said that the sale of property across from the East Ridge Fire and Police Service Center and adjacent to Crosspath Church had fallen through recently because the potential buyers wanted to build a restaurant there that would offer alcohol.
East Ridge Planning Commission member Ron Renegar, a commercial real estate broker who was offering the property for sale, was asked about the “for sale” sign being recently removed. He told East Ridge News Online the property had not been sold. When asked why the “for sale” sign was taken down he said, “everything happens for a reason.”
When asked what that reason might be, Renegar replied, “I’m not going to tell you.”
East Ridge News Online learned from multiple sources that Jack’s Restaurant has purchased the property. Jack’s does not offer alcoholic beverages on its menu.
_ Don Lyle, the general manager of Stir restaurant, appeared before the board and informed them that his business had applied for a temporary special event permit to sell beer at Camp Jordan Arena during a Ducks Unlimited event on Oct. 18. The application will be reviewed by city officials.