published Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield wants new pitch to urban growth panel


by Cliff Hightower

WHAT'S HAPPENED


Mayor Ron Littlefield asked in October for the county urban growth committee to meet. The committee met two weeks ago and voted 12-5 not to hear a proposal to open talks on expanding urban growth boundaries within the county.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said this week he plans to ask Hamilton County officials to reconvene the urban growth boundary committee, even though they shot down the idea two weeks ago.

"Just having one meeting and one vote is not the end of the story," Littlefield said. "That's the beginning of the story."

County Mayor Jim Coppinger responded by saying the law does give the mayor the right to call the committee together again. But he said the law also requires the city to make a proposal and for the committee to vote on that proposal. He noted at the last meeting the city did not have a specific proposal.

"It's an acting committee," he said. "It's not so much a planning committee."

The urban growth boundary committee met two weeks ago and voted 12-5 not to hear any kind of proposal about expanding the boundaries for cities within Hamilton County. The boundaries dictate how far and where cities can annex property.

The boundaries were set in 2001 by the cities and counties after the state Legislature mandated the move to try to circumvent quarreling over city expansion.

Littlefield said he now has a strategy for the next meeting.

"Now we know who is on the urban growth committee," he said. "We'll begin conversing with them."

But several members of the committee who voted against Chattanooga's proposal said Friday a conversation would not turn their vote.

Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk said he is surprised the mayor would not have known who was on the committee since the majority of the committee was made up of all the mayors in the county.

"I suspect he knew the potential committee members long before that," he said.

And Lusk said he doesn't think his vote will change.

"I do not believe the town of Signal Mountain should have a voice in Chattanooga's expansion," he said, and Signal Mountain doesn't need to move its boundaries at this time.

Lakesite Mayor Ken Wilkerson said the City Commission voted unanimously against the expansion of Chattanooga's borders.

"We are totally against any proposal or plan by the city of Chattanooga on the west side of the Tennessee River," he said. "Especially if it encroaches our locks in Lakesite."

Red Bank Mayor Monty Millard said he believes residents of affected annexation areas should have a right to vote on any annexation of their areas. And he said he is staunch in his decision against Chattanooga's plan to change the boundaries.

"I don't think it's going to do any good for me to change my vote," he said. "Even with a call from Mayor Littlefield."

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Salsa said...

Mayor Littlefield, If you wanted to know who was on the committee I'm sure all you had to do was ask.

December 24, 2011 at 12:19 a.m.
sage1 said...

I agree Salsa, his methodology often makes one wonder.

December 24, 2011 at 9:02 a.m.
Facts said...

Mayor Lusk hits the nail on the head. Ron Littlefield in his march to expand Chattanooga toward Metro-government is planning the death of all the smaller municipalities in the county (Lakesite, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mtn, Red Bank, etc.). I think there's a lot of opportunity to consolodate services, but that should be driven by the county working WITH these municipalities. Time for you, Mr. Littlefield to accept the recall as your exit.

December 24, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
talkthetalk911 said...

For all those in favor of consolidated government think a little. You are sold on the idea that things will be so much better and efficient. Right now in the metro area people have choices on better neighborhoods, better schools, property rates, better utility services and so forth. Consolidation eliminates those choices. Dont buy in to the whole "cost" to run issue. Taxes and fundind for those services have been an issue and will always be an issue. Those will not go away no matter how small or how large a government intity is. Case in point our U.S. government no matter what you think the issues are the fact remains the issues are there.

December 24, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.
Salsa said...

Consolidated government likely wouldn't be cheaper anyway. If two large entities such as the Police Department and the Sheriff's Office were joined, those with the lower salaries would have their salaries raised to match up with the other employees, so it would end up costing more money, not less.

December 24, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
chattyjill said...

Hypothetically, even if citizens had a vote about annexation, if the citizens voted contrary to what the heads of government wanted, the mayor and city council would change the law to pull the citizen's vote - just like how the city council is now discussing changing the city charter in the wake of a successful citizen-led recall. There is nothing wrong with the city charter except that the recall provision WORKED! So now the powers-at-be want to make citizen-led action more difficult by raising the number of signatures.

December 24, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
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