With barbed words, city wants to level its hills

City council member Russell Gilbert, left, talks with member Ken Smith and city attorney Phil Noblett. (Photo David Tulis)

Chattanooga is scared of its own hills. Its city council is making growling noises and plans to decapitate high places with a blade of rules limiting “steep slope” development.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7 FM

The council on Tuesday has a public hearing in which its members consider comments about a study designed to help create controls upon private property — to fulfill a yearning many feel for safety and security. The study. “Natural Resources Assessment“ by the regional planning agency, intends to act like a trust reaching into the future well beyond the lives of any of today’s players to secure its collective assets

City government in Chattanooga has a history of regressive and bleak customs, some new, some of long standing. They include an unconstitutional ordinance banning Airbnb in much of the city. They include a misuse of the freight, shipping, trucking, hauling and transportation statute at Tenn. Code Title 55 against people who are not carriers of any kind, neither common nor private. They include plain disregard by police of the arrest without warrant statute.

The yearned-for “steep slopes” rule will unite under collective “leadership” the huge power of stagnation that civil authority routinely becomes. A proposed control of hilly properties is a stab at liberty and the free market. An attack on the grace concept that underlines liberty and freedom.

This is not mere theory, but explicitly proposed by the regional planning agency.

Limits of grace

The report offers “action steps” toward a new ordinance that a free marketer would call a withdrawal of marketplace rights and a Christian would call a withdrawal of grace.

“Staff will host a series of workshops with stakeholders such as developers, architects, and the public to instruct them on how to use the new ordinance ensuring they are familiar with the new requirements. Staff would recommend a 6 month grace period after Ordinance adoption where certain new permits/developments may not be subject to all the new Ordinance regulations until the training with City staff and the Public has occurred.”

Here is the final step September 2020 that will foreclose hillside lot owners’ options.  

Action Step 8. *** After the grace period has expired, any new developments/permits will then be subject to complying with the new Ordinance regulations and will be subject to any enforcement procedures when not in compliance with the regulations. [Emphasis added]

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