published Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Chattanooga City Council not yet sold on annexation

by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Ron Littlefield

Some City Council members are not buying into Mayor Ron Littlefield's plans for annexation just yet, saying details and explanation are scant.

"He might be a visionary, but it's not a vision unless you explain it," Councilman Russell Gilbert said.

Several council members said they still are awaiting feedback from the mayor's office on why he wants to extend the city limits and precisely how the city benefits from annexing all of the property within its designated urban growth boundary.

For his part, the mayor backed off statements he has made about plans to annex all of the available land.

"By 'all of it,' I mean everything that makes sense," he said. "If we can't serve the area, we don't need to take them in."

The city now is looking at annexing those areas that already have sewer and good water connections and therefore would not cost the taxpayers money to bring into the city. Mr. Littlefield said the plan is to annex parcels at a time, not annex the entire territory at once.

He asked for patience as his staff continues to develop a cost-benefit analysis of his proposal.

"It will be discussed in great detail," he said. "There will be no big surprises."

The first annexations could possibly come this year. Some City Council members said among the first parcels could be areas around Cummings Cove in Lookout Valley.

A survey of council members showed five undecided on annexation, two against and two in support. Most said they are reserving judgment until they get more details, but said their decision would depend on which parcels are under consideration.

"It's not going to come before us as one fell swoop," said Councilman Peter Murphy. "It's going to be in chunks."

Councilwoman Deborah Scott said she is undecided.

"I can't give an opinion if all of them are good, some of them are good or half of them are good," she said.

Councilman Manny Rico said he would support annexation because the plan was hammered out a decade ago among municipal governments.

"It's something that was planned 10 years ago, and if we're going to do it, we should do it now," he said.

Councilman Andraé McGary said council members are being cautious because so much is at stake, such as the costs of providing water and sewer services and police and fire protection.

"Everyone wants to make the best financial decision," he said.

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elmothesaint said...

Councilman Rico needs to learn what it means to be an elected representative.

He has clearly lost sight that he was elected to represent the will of the people and not impose the will of the Mayor, or his own will on the people.

Councilman Rico you were elected to serve the will of the people who put you in office THIS CURRENT TERM.

You were not elected to impose the will of some decades old, outdated and irrelevant plan on the public.

The areas proposed for annexation are residential areas and serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever in boosting the economy of Chattanooga, annexing them will simply further strain the city budget, and further harm already weak and poor quality existing city resources and services.

There is much that needs to be fixed within the existing city limits and the money that would be wasted on extending services to the newly annexed areas can defintely be better spent on restoring existing city neighborhoods and infrastructure.

I know that most of us city residents are severely disappointed with the existing city services we get for paying higher taxes, and see it as a foolish endeavor to annex new areas and further strain city resources. Especially, when there are so many neighborhoods within the existing city that need revitalizing and so much existing city infrastructure that needs restoration.

I also find Mayor Littlefield's statement that this annexation is for safety simply stupid. Under Mr. Littlefield's administration the gang and violence problem has grown exponentially to where not a week has gone by this year that there is not a violent crime within the city limits on the evening news. And now the crime and gang violence is spilling over into what were once considered to be safe neighborhoods within the city.

It would be nice to see our elected representatives stand up and actually represent the will of the people instead of being the Mayor's rubber stamp of approval on a poorly thought out, unjustifiable, and unsustainable plan.

July 6, 2009 at 5:09 a.m.
democrat77 said...

I agree the city council needs to show some backbone.

The city council members all seem to be looking to the Mayor for leadership and to give them their agenda, which is wrong.

As elected representatives they have an obligation to be looking to their constituents and the public to lead them and tell them what their agenda is.

Most of us in the city are as opposed to this annexation as those in the county. It doesn't improve anything and simply makes the existing city problems bigger and harder to manage, which in turn leads to a bigger bureaucracy that is even further out of the touch with the public.

July 6, 2009 at 6:07 a.m.

Is there any truth to the rumor that a couple of prominent-members of City government have been seen house hunting in two of the too be annexed areas, (specifically in the shadows of the mountain and in and around the lake); and that the only reason for the rush to annex is that Mr. Littlefield wishes to close the deal on annexation before escrow closes, for said prominent members of City government, before Mr. Littlefield has another embarrassing Marti Rutherford-like residency issue on his hands?

July 6, 2009 at 10:13 a.m.
federaloffense said...

Growth. More growth. We need more growth. That's what the politicians always say. I don't see the advantage of annexation for the sake of growth. It really won't benefit either side in this issue, but it will hurt one side. Leave the county residents alone. We live out in the unincorporated area's for a reason. At least let our county commissioners vote along side the city council. That only seems fair. Or does the mayor not believe in being fair and just? Someone should ask him on the record.

July 6, 2009 at 10:23 p.m.
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