A ministry for homeless people announced Thursday it would withdraw its plans to build a community of 32 affordable “tiny homes” in rural Ooltewah [TN] where renters could live, work and raise food.
But Chester Bankston, the Hamilton County commissioner for Ooltewah who opposes the tiny home project, said he won’t let Mustard Tree Ministries pull the plans. That’s because Bankston expects county commissioners will vote it down at its June 8 and June 15 meetings, which would kill the proposal for at least a year. If Mustard Tree pulls the plan, he said, the ministry could resubmit sooner.
“They can’t [withdraw],” Bankston said. “That’s my decision.”
The proposal already got a thumbs down on May 9 from the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, which by a 13-2 vote recommended against allowing the United Methodist Church-backed ministry to build a cluster of 300-square-foot homes on a 17-acre farm once used to house the Lighthouse United Methodist Church near the corner of Snow Hill and Mahan Gap roads.
The planners’ no vote came after more than 1,800 signatures opposing the project were presented by three Ooltewah-area homeowner groups.
“This has the most opposition of anything I’ve dealt with,” said Bankston, who’s served for six years as county commissioner. “I’m here to represent my people, and my people say, ‘No.'”
The proposed tiny homes would have rented for $250 t0 $300 a month, “which we believe actually fulfills a dire need in our community for more affordable housing,” reads a statement from the Rev. Barry Kidwell, the United Methodist pastor who heads Mustard Tree Ministries.