Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Many of you may already know that several important issues came before the Signal Mountain Town Council last night. The one I have been discussing most is the SROZ issue. The repeal passed, as I assumed it would. The vote was 4-1 with my being the dissenting vote. My statement on this issue is posted on Chattanoogan.com http://chattanoogan.com/articles/article_154823.asp.

I believe I have explained myself, but briefly I opposed replacing the SROZ ordinances without having viable conservation zoning in place. Annette Allen seems to think we have to go back to the old ordinance before we can move ahead. I disagree and frankly don't follow the reasoning. However, there does seem to be a commitment from the Planning Commission to proceed with more progressive zoning, so I will take a cautiously optimistic approach. I told them I would enthusiastically support conservation zoning if it is practical and adequately incentivized so it will be used. We currently have an open space ordinance, but it is not used. We must do better. There seemed to be a general agreement that a density of 2 homes per acre was acceptable for zoning. I would expect some incentive for developers to use conservation or open space zoning.
This is consistent with my thinking all along, so I think there is much room for agreement. I do think the issue of affordability must receive more focus, though. My vision for Signal Mountain is not as an enclave of the wealthy and well-born, but a community with room for people of all socio-economic situations.

On the subject of the Middle School property, I am disappointed at Commissioner Casavant's opposition to the sale. Obviously, he thinks the county could get more for it if they wait. Noone knows if that will be the case or not, but I think we have an excellent proposal for a very difficult piece of property which I feel will be a benefit to the community. While I have great respect for Commissioner Casavant and have agreed with him on many issues in the past, I have made it clear that I will lobby the County Commission to approve the sale. I made a motion to send a message of support for the sale from the Council to the County Commission and have sent my own personal message to them.

Finally, the issue of guns in parks. The Council voted 5-0 to continue the ban that has been in place for years. I have never heard anyone complain about this ban before and I certainly don't know of a wave of crime in our parks because the public goes into them unarmed. I would love to go to great lengths about the Second Amendment, but leave it to say that, while the amendment has always protected ownership of weapons, it also clearly allows regulation of those weapons, especially by the states. This has been the consistent history of this issue.

Have a great rest of the summer!