published Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Petitions circulate for new city of Hamilton


by Cliff Hightower
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Poll
Is the new city of Hamilton a good idea?
where to sign?

Petitions for incorporation of the new city of Hamilton can be found at the following locations:

• Steve Ray Midnite Oil & Steve Ray Golfcarts, 9043 Lee Highway

• Fresh Fitness (Publix at Snow Hill), 5958 Snow Hill Road, Suite 116

• Gymnastic Centers of Chattanooga, 6855 Mountain View Road

• Savannah Utility District, 10700 Highway 58

• 8212 Mahan Gap Road

Source: Friends of Hamilton

The petition sits on top of the front counter in Steve Ray's Midnite Oil on Lee Highway.

Ray swoops up the brown clipboard and displays it.

"There's four people who signed it this morning," Ray says, "including me."

Those involved with trying to incorporate a new city in Hamilton County would estimate there are only 3,996 more signatures to go.

Friends of Hamilton, a grass-roots organization that sprang up in the effort to form a new city, started its petition drive Monday. Five small businesses across Ooltewah and Georgetown have the petition sitting on counters, waiting for the signatures of people who live inside the proposed city limits.

The group hopes to get more than 4,000 signatures of registered voters in favor of putting the question on the November 2012 general election ballot, or roughly one-third of the areas' 12,000 registered voters. Only those within the proposed city limits will vote on the incorporation.

It will be a long, complicated process, but Brendan Jennings, spokesman for the group, said he thinks the business owners who placed the petitions on their counters are taking a stand.

"I think they are in for the long haul," he said.

Friends of Hamilton rolled out its plans for incorporation of a new city -- to be called Hamilton -- in October, just days after Mayor Ron Littlefield proposed revisiting the urban growth boundaries for all county municipalities.

Hamilton would be sandwiched between Chattanooga and Cleveland in unincorporated areas of the Birchwood, Harrison and Ooltewah communities.

Ray, who would live inside Hamilton, said he has no problems paying a few extra dollars on a Hamilton property tax, as long as he knows he won't be annexed by Chattanooga.

"I would rather incorporate and know it's not going to happen ever," he said.

He said he thinks a Hamilton property tax would be lower than a Chattanooga tax.

Chris Matthews, president of Friends of Hamilton, said this is only a first step. He said the group plans to go to churches, have mailers and roll out petitions in three to five more businesses.

"By next week, we hope to be ramping it up even more," he said.

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