published Friday, August 28th, 2009

City reveals second phase of annexation


by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Ron Littlefield

A second wave of areas proposed for annexation into the city include the large subdivisions of Hurricane Creek, Stonewall Farms and Windstone, commercial property along Highway 58 and pockets along the side of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga officials said Thursday.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said the second phase is the last of proposed annexations this year.

"It's not the last of the annexations," he said. "I'm still interested in the entire growth area."

Kyle Holden, president of Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation and a resident of Hurricane Creek, said his newly formed organization would not rule out going to court to stop annexation. Before that happens, he said residents will need to see how the City Council votes on the proposed annexation areas. The council is expected to vote in October on the first phase. A vote on the second phase could come in November, officials said.

"We've just got to wait and see until the gavel falls," Mr. Holden said.

Annexation opponents have said they fear their property taxes will double and that city services could take years to be established. City officials counter that taxes will increase but homeowners' fire insurance rates will go down. City officials add that services will be implemented immediately.

Earlier this month, the city unveiled the first phase of annexations. Areas in that phase include the subdivisions of Ramsgate, Cummings Cove, parcels in Ooltewah and Apison Pike and a swath east of Morris Hill Road.

  • photo
    Staff file photo

An estimated 3,500 people would be annexed into Chattanooga during the second phase, officials said. The new areas would mean more than 6,500 county residents coming into the city this year, the largest annexation by the city since the 1970s.

Mr. Littlefield said the second phase would not stretch city services because they've been incorporated into city planning with the earlier proposed annexations.

City officials have said they would build three new fire stations in Hixson, Lookout Valley and East Brainerd to handle the growth.

On Sept. 14, the city will present its new plan of services -- police, fire, sewer, garbage pickup and other services -- for the areas it plans to annex to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Mr. Holden said he would rally opponents to show up at the meeting.

"I'm sure it will be a dog-and-pony show," he said.

REASONS FOR ANNEXATION

Mr. Littlefield said there are specific reasons for the annexations. Windstone and Hurricane Creek have a history of sewage problems that have caused spillage and odor concerns. They are currently serviced by a privately-owned sewage system, he said.

"A lot of our annexation is to solve those sewage problems," he said.

The annexation plans also extend out Ooltewah-Ringgold Road, bringing in commercial and residential property, he said.

The intersection of Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road now needs a traffic light to help with congestion from the new East Hamilton School, he said. The county does not have authority to put up traffic signals and must get approval from the state, Mr. Littlefield said. The city, however, does not need state approval, he said.

"We are the local experts on signaling intersections," Mr. Littlefield said.

Mr. Holden said he has never had a problem with his septic tank and most of the problems in Hurricane Creek are not in the county portion of the subdivision.

"The biggest sewage problem is in the city part of Hurricane Creek," he said.

MIXED REACTIONS

Councilwoman Pam Ladd said she had not made up her mind about how to vote for some annexation areas. She has heard from many people in Stonewall Farms who live on fixed incomes and are afraid of the property tax increase, she said.

Ms. Ladd said she also has heard from younger residents who have lost jobs and are hurting for money.

"There's some who are going to be hard hit," she said.

Some annexation areas make sense if the city can provide services, she said, but residents in Stonewall Farms already have sewer and are satisfied with their police and fire protection.

"I certainly understand where they are coming from," she said. "Some areas make good sense to me, and some don't."

City Council Chairman Jack Benson said Thursday that the sewer odor and spillage problems at Windstone and Hurricane Creek and the traffic congestion at Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road need to be addressed.

"We've got to quickly do something about that," he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

* 6,500: Total number of estimated residents affected by annexation

* 3,500: Estimated number of residents who could be annexed in first phase

* 3,000: Estimated number of people who could be annexed in second phase

Source: City of Chattanooga

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Sailorman said...

"City Council Chairman Jack Benson said Thursday that the sewer odor and spillage problems at Windstone and Hurricane Creek and the traffic congestion at Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road need to be addressed.

"We've got to quickly do something about that," he said."

I've lived in Hurricane Creek for 9 years. The sewer problem is near the entrance to the subdivision - city owned. A few months ago, Mr Benson said the problem had finally been solved. If that's true, it doesn't seem much of a reason to annex. If it's not true (which is probable since it's been an ongoing problem for a long time) exactly how is annexing going to solve an already city owned problem?

As far as the light ar OR and East Brainerd Roads - here we have an example of government planning at its finest. This is suddenly a problem? Why didn't the county address this with the state long ago? Why didn't the city and county work with the state to widen EB road before the school was built? It's been talked about for years.

Screw things up and then ride to our rescue? This bogus annexation, nothing more than a poorly planned blatant money grab, isn't going to fix stupid. Apparently Mr Benson has taken the lessons of the national politicians to heart. Hurry hurry the sky is falling.

August 28, 2009 at 8:15 a.m.
captainrt said...

Lets see, my taxes will double causing my house payment to rise each month. The streets in my subdivision will be dug up to put in sewers that I will have to pay thousands of my own money to hook-up to. The Chattanooga Police Department will now protect me...enough said about that. The city will be able to impose it's rule on me, now and in the future. Gee, why on earth would anyone not welcome this boat -load of garbage into their life? Vote them out.

August 28, 2009 at 10:30 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Why didn't Mayor Littlefield run for reelection on an annexation platform? I never heard of it during the campaign. Now he springs it on us; he has no mandate from Chattanooga to do so, let alone from his targets. Sneaky.
He has a mandate to be mayor, and to do the day-to-day stuff government does. He doesn't have a mandate for any program, except maybe something to do with the homeless. (He loves them so much the Union Gospel Mission gets shut down, and the Chattanooga Rescue Mission is zoned out of an expansion?) He's not the first. I don't recall Mr. Corker running for mayor on a two-way platform, or Mr. Kinsey running on a seize-the-waterworks platform. They got in, and then told us what they wanted to do. Sneaky. And when some people tried to put two-way to a vote, Mayor Corker frustrated their efforts instead of letting us decide. Arrogant. Loathsome paternalism. I seem to recall that Mayor Littlefield apologized to the Cherokees for what was done to them in Chattanooga. (I don't recall that he gave them any land, not even a vacant lot; but I think Congress has to approve treaties with Indians.) Now he wants to do to the county what President Jackson did to the Cherokees? Think again.
If he needs to annex the intersection of two roads to put up a traffic light, maybe that wouldn't be so bad. If annexation proceeds house by house with owner's consent, as long as it does no harm to those outside the city (does not cut off their access to anything), maybe. If no city taxes are collected until services are actually delivered, maybe; don't pay for it until you're actually getting it. But basically, no annexation without representation.

August 28, 2009 at 4:52 p.m.
federaloffense said...

It seems to me that moving ahead with phase 2 before phase 1 is approved means it is a done deal. What a dog and pony show. Am I still in America, land of the free, or somewhere over the rainbow. The only positive thing for the people is that they will have a huge power voting block to get rid of these jerks next election. Don't forget to vote! Actions have consequence.

September 1, 2009 at 10:41 p.m.
Sailorman said...

I hope the city residents, especially the ones who refer to county residents as freeloaders, take the time to read the plan for phase 2. Would it shock you to know it is identical to the plan for Phase 1? I expect all the plans for the next phases will be the same one regurgitated. Any official who voted to accept the first plan, and any who vote for this one, on both the Planning Commission and the council, should be run out of town on a rail. It is no plan. Provide inferior service using existing assets - yeah right there's not enough to handle the city now - and then do a study. Absolutely brilliant. You city residents better be prepared for a tax increase because new revenues won't pay for Littlefield's fantasy.

September 1, 2009 at 11:12 p.m.
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