Photo: Walden Town Hall 1836 Taft Highway, Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Photo Courtesy of waldentn.gov
Published January 13, 2021
Hamilton County, TN – A temporary restraining order has been issued to the town of Walden on Tuesday. The restraining order came from a Hamilton County Chancery Court judge in order to keep the town from withdrawing support for a planned grocery store.
The plan that Walden had proposed, which would look at the new project and complaints against it, will be discussed at a hearing on January 27. This hearing, set by Chancellor Pam Fleenor, will decide the future of the grocery store and small shop space that LOP LLC hopes to build.
The chancellor asked for the temporary restraining order to be issued immediately or the petitioner will “suffer irreparable injury.”
The proposed resolution to be discussed at the hearing states that an ordinance passed in 2019, which allowed for the grocery store project, was actually in violation of state law. The resolution also says that the town is not opposing claims in a lawsuit that was filed in 2020 against the ordinance and grocery store.
This lawsuit came from two Walden residents and another man who lives near where the proposed grocery store would be built. The lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court by attorney Douglas Berry, claimed that this project was in conflict with zoning and a land-use plan.
The suit also said, “The decisions of the Town Board in passing the ordinance and approving the development were illegal, arbitrary, and capricious and this court should overturn them.”
The grocery store has a 15 million dollar budget and was controversial among Walden and Signal Mountain residents when it was first being discussed. Despite the controversy, the plan was able to pass toward the end of last year.
The lawsuit stated that the ordinance passed without any formal action or review. The suit also said that the town did not have any public hearings on the matter after one held on September 10, 2019, was deemed to be in violation of the law.
Bruce Novkov, who supports the new store, believes it could be a good addition to the mountain as well as provide “an affordable grocery option and town center.”
Novkov also said, “Anytime you offer more services for residents, it’s a good thing. Location couldn’t be any better. It’s a commercial piece of property already.”
The proposal would ask Walden attorneys to support those who originally filed the lawsuit, as well as, support the invalidation of the ordinance. Mayor Lee Davis, who opposed the store while serving as vice mayor, would be asked to “take all appropriate actions to obtain the invalidation.”
John Anderson, a Chattanooga attorney who fully supports the grocery store project and proposed the original plan, said, “I am grateful for the commissioners’ continued support of Walden Town Center and believing in the merits this development will provide residents.”
Anderson also denied the claim that the project was improperly approved. Anderson said the decision the town made was “supported by material evidence, had a rational basis, was fairly debatable and was not arbitrary, capricious or illegal.”