published Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Annexation hearings set for September

by Cliff Hightower


The Chattanooga City Council approved two dates for public hearings and will vote next week on three more dates. The days and areas affected are:

* Sept. 1: Cummings Cove

* Sept. 3: Ramsgate and an area of Big Ridge Road

* Sept. 8: Areas around Ooltewah and Apison Pike

* Sept. 10: Areas east of Morris Hill Road

* Sept. 15: Additional areas around Apison Pike

Source: Chattanooga

Residents will have a chance to voice their concerns beginning Sept. 1 about possible annexation into Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to schedule meetings on Sept. 1 and Sept. 3.

“It’s for the benefit of the people who live in these areas,” City Attorney Mike McMahan said.

Councilman Russell Gilbert was absent for the vote. The areas on which the council will hold public hearings during these dates include Cummings Cove, the Ramsgate area and an area on Big Ridge Road. The council will vote next week on scheduling public hearings for the rest of the 10 proposed annexation areas.

Dates for those hearings include Sept. 8,10 and 15, city records show.

Mr. McMahan said the city will run newspaper advertisements 15 days in advance of the meetings that will include detailed maps of the proposed areas to be annexed.

The meetings will be the official time when people can voice their opinions about annexation and the city’s plan of services, he said.

“The purpose of the public hearing is for the public to comment,” Mr. McMahan said.

In other business, the Legal and Legislative Committee of the City Council talked to officials with the Hamilton County 911 Emergency District concerning road name changes. In recent months, some council members have questioned why some road names have been changed, especiallydesignations such as road, drive, avenue or street.

John Stuermer, executive director of the emergency district, said the name changes are needed to ensure public safety. He said many times callers are confused and excited when they call in, and that can lead to confusion.

They may give only first part of the name and leave out the second, he said.

“It becomes our problem if we send them (emergency workers) to the wrong address,” he said.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said she thought the people who faced constant address changes were being left out.

“It seems like we’re accommodating the computer system and not the computer system accommodating people’s well-being,” she said.

Mr. Stuermer said the merging of 911 also added to the confusion, with some streets in different cities across Hamilton County having the same names. Jeff Carney, operations manager for the district, said the problems became prevalent when cell phones became popular.

Some callers on cell phones might not know their exact locations, he said.

“Technology has made it more complicated,” he said.

Council members decided they would continue to study the city’s street ordinance.

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The road change names would be completely unneccessary if emergency services would adopt and dispatch emergency workers using the same Zip Code+4 system the US postal service utilizes, instead of dispatching by street name.

The issue of similar or identical street names, and confusion over Road, Avenue, Drive etc. instantly goes away.

That was the whole reason the USPS came up with the system in the first place, so that locating the proper street address would be more precise.

August 12, 2009 at 8:14 p.m.
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