CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – UPDATE: On Thursday, MAP Engineers owner Mike Price released the following statement on the project:
The development team while disappointed in yesterday’s 5-4 vote, is currently exploring all options and once a decision is made, we will make that decision public. We also appreciate the work of all those citizens and public officials working to try and bring a needed development of this type to the South Broad area.
On Wednesday, the Chattanooga Zoning Appeals Board denied variances sought for a project to bring a possible Publix to a lot on South Broad Street.
It’s a project that has seen push back from some people for several months.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people have looked at it as these are the people who don’t want Publix. We do want Publix. I love Publix. They’re a great employer, a great company. The issue here was the nature of the development,” Jim Johnson said.
Johnson started a Facebook group called “Chattanoogans for Responsible Development.”
He said that he wants the developer and community to work together more.
“There’s a term that a lot of people use, ‘the Chattanooga way.’ This has not been done ‘the Chattanooga way.’ It needs to be done in a way where there’s more collaboration and involvement where we can achieve something that is far better than what we are seeing today.”
District 7 Councilman Erskine Oglesby said he’s “extremely disappointed” that the variances did not get approved.
The councilman supports the plan as it will bring jobs to the area, add another grocer to his district since there’s only one, and encourage further economic growth.
It’s unclear what will happen to the project, but Johnson said he hopes this isn’t a major roadblock.
“And, if they’re willing to talk, that maybe we can come up with something that is not gonna even require a variance requests, and they can just move forward and start construction, maybe even sooner than having to deal with the variances,” Johnson said.