published Monday, July 5th, 2010

Fort Oglethorpe boasts fastest growth in area

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    Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - A few homes are being added to the Heritage Woods subdivision in Fort Oglethorpe.
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Chattanooga's growth since 2000 was the fastest in three decades, edging it closer to Knoxville as Tennessee's third-biggest city, according to new census estimates.

After losing residents in the 1980s and growing a modest 2.5 percent in the 1990s, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Chattanooga grew nearly 10.2 percent from 2000 to 2009.

But the Census Bureau estimates the region's fastest-growing cities were in nearby suburbs to the north and south of Chattanooga, while Chattanooga's oldest neighboring suburbs lost population during the decade.

In its final population estimate before the 2010 census is tabulated, the bureau estimated last week that Chattanooga added 15,795 residents to boost the city's population to 171,349 people in 2009.

"I think these gains bode well for the future of Chattanooga and should continue with the transformation we have made in our city," said Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, a former city planner.

"I have somewhat humorously sent messages to (Knoxville Mayor) Bill Haslam that we are intending to knock Knoxville off as the third-largest city in Tennessee, and it's becoming more than just a joke," Mr. Littlefield said.

Chattanooga outpaced the growth rate of Knoxville and Memphis from 2000 to 2009, although the Scenic City grew more slowly than metro Nashville; Huntsville, Ala.; or Atlanta, census figures indicate.

Among cities in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, Fort Oglethorpe grew the fastest, expanding by more than 42 percent since the 2000 census.

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb expects more growth in the next decade.

"We're rural in some respects, but we are still only minutes from Chattanooga with all of its urban amenities," Mr. Cobb said.

Although Georgia has a state income tax on payroll income while Tennessee does not, Mr. Cobb said property and sales taxes and land prices are lower in Fort Oglethorpe than in Chattanooga.

"As Chattanooga increases its property tax rate, more people are going to relocate here," he said.

Sherman Smith owns Dreamtech Builders, which has constructed more than 300 homes in North Georgia. He said the growth of businesses along Battlefield Parkway "means that Fort Oglethorpe is a place where people can live, work and play" at reasonable cost.

Other, older suburbs to Chattanooga are not faring as well, however.

As aging populations shrink the average household size, Hamilton County's biggest suburbs have lost population. The 2009 census estimates indicate that East Ridge, Red Bank, Signal Mountain and Lookout Mountain on both the Tennessee and Georgia sides of the border lost population from 2000 to 2009.

Bill Glascock, mayor of Lookout Mountain, Ga., conceded that with 110 unsold houses on the market on Lookout Mountain in both states, the economy is hurting many home sales and relocations.

But he said the town "is going full force now" with plans for a new sidewalk and redevelopment of the town center complex, which he said should help attract more residents.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Chattanooga No. 3 for affordable housing

Article: Rural growth continues despite lagging economy

Article: Linguistic diversity continues to grow

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dave said...

I can understand Ft. Olgethorpe's growth. People are moving south to escape the oppressive taxation set in place by Mayor Littlefield and his cronies. TAX AND SPEND!

Of course they don't give a D____ what the taxpayers think...they just voted themselves another big tax increase right in the middle of a depression. Basically a sending a signal of SCREW the taxpayers...

TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

Next Election VOTE these rascals OUT!

July 5, 2010 at 11:07 a.m.
sideviews said...

If taxes are driving people out of Chattanooga, how do you explain that the city grew faster since 2000 than most of its neighboring cities that lost residents, including East Ridge, Red Bank, Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain and Rossville?

July 5, 2010 at 12:18 p.m.
chiOKI said...

I'm not surprised by F.O.s growth. F.O. gets a lot of Chattanooga's business, especially from Chattanooga's minority population, simply because in F.O. they don't mind what color you are as long as your money is green and real. In Chattanooga, too many businesses are wrapped up in class, friendships and a desire for certain types to patronize their businesses. Plus, you don't have the hassle of red light traffic cameras and authority harassment with constant stops and out to meet ticket writing quotas.

July 5, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Can anyone spell annexation???

July 5, 2010 at 8:34 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

Here is the part that people fail to realize. There are 2 cities in Catoosa County. Ft. Oglethorpe and Ringgold. The 2009 population for the 2 cities is under 13,000 residents. The population for the entire county is over 60,000 residents. The majority of the homeowner tax base comes from the unincorporated residents. The cities enjoy an ISO rating that saves them money. They have superior fire protection and ambulance response times, and all this is funded by the commercial tax base that every county resident contributes to. There are @ 47,000 county residents that shop and eat at these very establishments and the majority of the tax dollars support 20% of the population. Two city governments for 13,000 residents seems to me to be overkill. Whatever happened to Lean & Mean.

July 5, 2010 at 8:53 p.m.
UGA1 said...

Thanks for the comments "whatsthefuss", but the Catoosa County and FO city governments are about to stop funding one of their ISO 3 fire departments- "Fort Oglethorpe / Post Fire Rescue". They have been providing emergency services for a very small cost for 50+ years. The city mayor refuses to recognize the need for increased public safety- fire budget almost 30% of police budget. When you move to FO-check how far your home is from the nearest MANNED fire station before you buy.....

July 6, 2010 at 4:27 a.m.
UGA1 said...

Don't forget the fire dept is 24/7 also, and has the same expenses that police depts have-such as insurance and workers comp. Fire services also respond to medical emergencies, environmental issues (flooding and hazardous materials), as well as education of students about fire safety. Are you more likely to be in an automobile accident, suffer a heart attack, or be a victim of a crime?

July 8, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.
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