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IHOP zoning to go before RPA

After months of discussion, plans to rezone property on Gunbarrel Road from residential to commercial with the intention of building an IHOP restaurant will come before the Regional Planning Commission.

The request, which violates the Hamilton Place Land Use Plan, will be heard at the regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. in the Hamilton County Courthouse in downtown Chattanooga.

According to Chattanooga Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger, there are three steps in the process to rezone property. First, RPA staff must either submit a recommendation to accept or deny the request. Then the Regional Planning Commission hosts a public hearing followed by a vote to either recommend, deny or defer the property’s request to the Chattanooga City Council, he said.

Regardless of whether or not the request is recommended or denied by the Regional Planning Commission, it can still appear before the Chattanooga City Council for a final vote on the request, said Bridger.

Opposition to the zoning request has already begun garnering support. Friends of East Brainerd board of directors member Dr. Roger Meyer said he will be present at the meeting and encourages others in opposition of the zoning request to join him.

“The Friends of East Brainerd formed partially to support the land use plan. We’re not against IHOP; we’re not against development. We’re against breaking the land use plan,” he said. “Unfortunately we have some people in the community who don’t want to abide by that.”

He described the upcoming meeting as the first with any “clout” in the ongoing series of events which he described as a “real trial.”

“We want the committee to accept the idea that there are a lot of people who don’t want to see commercial creep,” he said.

Property owner Bassam Issa said he has no intention of playing games at the meeting or rallying support prior to the meeting.

“It’s a normal thing in any process. We will provide support and they will have their opposition,” he said. “We know what we need to do and that’s be in front of the board to tell our story.”

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