The Unity Group held a press conference on the steps of city hall on Tuesday, December 4, asking that the Mayor and City Council listen to their requests surrounding the proposed rezoning of the former Harriet Tubman housing complex from Residential to Industrial.

We have included links to some of the media coverage the event received and appreciate the journalists who came out to cover this important and developing story. Those links include plenty of background information and additional resources surrounding this hot topic.

“We are concerned about the limitations that the newly proposed M-1 industrial zoning will place on future development possibilities. We wholeheartedly support the redevelopment of the Harriet Tubman site, but there must be clear measures of accountability to ensure that our input is acted upon and that low-income and working- class families will actually benefit from redevelopment,” according to the statement released at the Tuesday press conference.

Glass House Collective is thankful for the Unity Group’s bold statements and direct action on behalf of our community.  Please note that there are two upcoming important public meetings listed below concerning the rezoning request that are happening the beginning of next week. We hope to see many familiar faces standing up for their community at both the City Council meeting and the Regional Planning meeting.

Unity Group’s full public statement can be read here.  The 6-page document includes a call to action regarding the redevelopment plans for the former Harriet Tubman Homes public housing site, outlining “existing community needs and future steps we would like the City Government to take to ensure that the 44 acres of public land are used to create real opportunities for working families in East Chattanooga.”

Among other things, the Unity Group are putting forth four specific requests as well as a general plea for consideration and collaboration with East Chattanooga residents and stakeholders on any projects considered for the Tubman site.

One of the four requests includes the creation of an enforceable community benefits agreement (CBA) with the developer(s). Unity Group describes a CBA as “a project-specific agreement between a developer and a broad community coalition that details the project’s contributions to the community and ensures community support for the project. They can address a wide range of issues and are legally binding when properly structured.”

This new rezoning request comes while the Area 3 Plan process is still underway, with recommendations from that plan expected in early 2019. This summer, Glass House Collective along side so many of our neighbors took time to participate in the development of the Area 3 Plan where we discussed land use and a community vision; we drafted values, priorities and goals.

Jonah Williams, who has rented homes in several of the Area 3 neighborhoods, is now a Glass Farm home owner. Jonah says he is confused by the rezoning request, especially after participating with the RPA’s public input sessions for Area 3.

Area 3 includes Avondale, Battery Heights, Bushtown, Churchville, Boyce Station, Ferger Place, Gaylan Heights, Glass Farms, Glenwood, Highland Park, Oak Grove, Orchard Knob, Park Central, Ridgedale, Riverside, Watehaven and Wheeler.

“We’re not against good ideas. But this request now contradicts what was already started and all the strides in conversation we had as a community this summer. RPA spent time collecting data. So this feels a bit like putting the cart before the horse, when we don’t even have the results of that plan. That’s confusing for me,” Mr. Williams said.

While Area 3 is a large area that also includes the Tubman site, the 44 acre site is a big topic of discussion when it comes to determining community-lead priorities for land use within Area 3. We expect as a result of the effort put into the Area 3 Plan to be working collaboratively with stakeholders, developers, residents and city officials once that plan is complete.

TWO IMPORTANT MEETINGS
Monday, December 10,  1pm
Public Hearing With Regional Planning Agency
County Commission Room
Hamilton County Courthouse
625 Georgia Avenue

Tuesday, December 11 6pm – 7pm
City Council
Assembly Room, City Council Building
1000 Lindsay Street

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