This story was updated May 14, 2018, at 10:56 p.m. with more information.

A Chattanooga planning panel on Monday agreed to permit real estate developer John "Thunder" Thornton to split up his 10-acre estate in Riverview so five additional houses can go on the site.

Despite questions from some neighbors about the road to the tract, potential water runoff and a sewer easement, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission approved the Rivervista Drive proposal. It put the condition on the project that the parcel be split into no more than six lots with one single-family dwelling per lot.

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John "Thunder" Thornton

"We're pleased," said Thornton after the meeting. He said he didn't have any timing about moving ahead with development if the change gains City Council approval. That panel is to hear the plan on June 12.

Thornton said he could have put up to 60 homesites on the property if he had wanted, but that wasn't his intention.

"We want to do something that if I was a neighbor, I wouldn't have an objection," he said.

At the meeting, Charles Albright of the Heritage Landing development below Thornton's property told planners that water runoff had flowed down to that area in the past. Barking from Thornton animals also had been a concern, he said.

Albright said he wanted the plan to go before Heritage Landing residents.

Another neighbor expressed worries about the private road into the Thornton site, and there were concerns over the artery's condition during future construction.

Thornton said he didn't expect any problem with Rivervista Drive.

"I'll maintain it," he said, adding there's no plan to widen the road.

Concerning water runoff and noise at Heritage Landing, Thornton said he'd never been informed of any issues from residents in that development.

Planning Commission member Todd Leamon said that in terms of easements, that's a private matter not covered by the panel.

"We don't get into private agreements," he said.

The commission staff had specified there be no guest houses on the property, which Thornton had wanted.

The developer said he has found in other developments that guest houses add value and urged the city to rethink its policy.

Thornton said he has owned the 12 Rivervista Dr., property in North Chattanooga since 1993. He lives in a 22,908-square-foot residence, according to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. The county appraises the total value of the building and land at more than $5.8 million.

Thornton said plans are to not cut the property into quarter-acre or even half-acre lots.

"They'll be large estate lots," he said, noting that three lots are some 2 acres each.

The developer of the Jasper Highlands mountaintop community in Marion County, Tenn., said most of the lots are larger than those surrounding his property.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.