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IHOP zoning now heading to planning commission

Property owner Bassam Issa is in the process of formally submitting a request to the Regional Planning Commission to rezone his office space and medical property on Gunbarrel Road to commercial, with the intention of developing an IHOP restaurant.

Although the zoning proposal violates the Hamilton Place Land Use Plan and has generated opposition from both neighbors and community leaders, Issa said he is optimistic about the outcome.

“We have enough support that we feel confident we will have a good chance at getting the zoning request we are asking for,” he said. “All the immediately surrounding neighbors are 100 percent for it.”

According to Issa, his property is sandwiched between commercially zoned businesses and across the street from a 40-acre commercial development, which puts him in a “sea of commercial on all sides” regardless of the current zoning.

“If this use plan was done today instead of 10 years ago, there is no way they would've excluded this piece of property from being zoned commercial because of where this piece of property is situated,” he said. “I want to make a correction as far as my property and not any other.”

At a recent Friends of East Brainerd public meeting to discuss the proposed rezoning, neighbors and community leaders alike voiced concern regarding the proposal, which would violate the Hamilton Place Land Use Plan.

“I am still a passionate supporter of the land use plan,” said District Four Chattanooga City Councilman Jack Benson after a presentation about the development.

Neighbors at the meeting spoke out against increasing traffic and decreasing the value of their property, and city officials reiterated their concern that violating the land use plan would set a precedent and ultimately undermine the plan altogether.

“All growth isn't good,” said Benson. “Cancer is growth and it can destroy healthy systems of the body.”

Benson said the request will likely go before the Regional Planning Commission in a couple of months and he does not anticipate the request will be approved.

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