published Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Cleveland puts annex plans for Bradley County on hold

Janice Casteel
Janice Casteel
Photo by Randall Higgins /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Proposals to incorporate 2.41 square miles and at least 500 Bradley County residents into Cleveland mostly have been put on hold because of possible changes in state law on annexation procedures.

On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 6-0 to approve the first public hearing for what remained on the original annexation plans: 11.8 acres of undeveloped property belonging to the Silver Springs subdivision development near Freewill Road.

The Freewill Road annexation proposal originally included 48.1 acres and the initial phase of the Silver Springs subdivision, which now has 28 homeowners. Those residents are not part of the latest amendment to incorporation plans.

Developer Dennis Epperson, who owns the 11.8 targeted acres of Silver Springs' second and third phases, spoke in favor of the city's plan to annex that property.

Epperson petitioned for annexation of the undeveloped portions of Silver Springs as part of a requirement to receive city wastewater services, according to city officials.

While most of the county inspection approvals will be accepted by the city before annexation, Epperson agreed he would add another inch of base stone to the road bed, City Manager Janice Casteel said. The requested improvement was made because of the heavy garbage and brush pickup vehicles that will serve the future subdivisions.

"I think we came to a good compromise," Casteel said.

Incorporation plans for Hardwick Farms, a portion of Anatole, the proposed veterans home and areas located on Mason Road, Autumn Drive and Old Chattanooga Pike have been postponed because of an expected moratorium on all annexations by ordinance. However, members of the Cleveland City Council speculated that the proposed veterans home would petition for annexation because of wastewater service needs.

The moratorium, which would apply to annexations by ordinance from April 15, 2013, to May 15, 2014, will go hand-in-hand with an annexation study scheduled for completion by Jan. 14, 2014.

"If Cleveland, or any other city, proceeds with an annexation by ordinance during the moratorium, it will only provide fodder for the anti-annexation contingent and thus increase the likelihood of a complete prohibition of annexation by ordinance during the next legislative session," said Josh Jones, legal consultant for the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service, in a letter to Casteel.

The second public hearing for the undeveloped phases of the Silver Springs development is scheduled for May 13.

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