Residents of District 3 are invited to voice their opinion on the proposed expansion of Chattanooga's urban growth boundaries at Loftis Middle School Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 6-7 p.m.
"Any areas not not previously designated by Soddy-Daisy or Lakesite, he wants to take it all," District 3 Hamilton County Commissioner Mitch McClure said in regards to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's proposal that the city's urban growth boundaries be revisited. Changing the boundaries would allow certain properties not currently claimed by any municipality to be annexed by Chattanooga.
Included in Littlefield's proposed boundaries are unincorporated areas of North Hamilton County between Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy, parts of Middle Valley and around the city of Lakesite.
Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, explained part of the theory behind the urban growth boundaries developed in the late 1990s was to make potential residents aware they were moving into an area of possible growth.
"It's a pretty tall order to amend the growth plan," he said, adding that everyone on the committee composed of representatives from the city, county and area municipalities must agree for any changes to occur. "The intent was to prevent wanton random growth of cities and to try to put in place a structured process as to how cities would grow."
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said that according to state law, he must convene a new committee to re-examine the 20-year growth plan established in 2001 within 60 days of the date he receives the amended proposal he requested from Littlefield Oct.18.
"I do not support the expansion of the 20-year growth plan," said Coppinger. "I have an obligation and a duty to uphold the law."
He said he does not see a need to revisit the growth boundaries at this time, and the city of Chattanooga is the only area municipality which has shown an interest in expanding beyond the current growth boundaries.
"The public opinion that we've received has been unfavorable," said Coppinger. "Basically the gist of the emails and phone calls we get is 'Please don't let this happen.'"
Among the potential effects of future annexation into the city of Chattanooga for the North Hamilton County areas in question are property taxes nearly double the current rate, as well as a switch to city services such as fire, police, garbage and sewer.
"No one's talking about annexation; all we're doing is establishing urban growth boundaries, identifying areas that could be annexed years down the line," said Richard Beeland, spokesperson for Littlefield. "Any time there are people on the periphery of a city, those people are utilizing the services within that city, and they're not paying for those services."
McClure said he was contacted by a Hixson resident living within Chattanooga city limits opposed to the boundary expansion, in the belief that adding more residents to the city of Chattanooga would cause it to become overstretched and unable to provide services.
"If you add additional residents, then your resources are going to be stretched," he said. "I have pledged to folks who have contacted me I will do everything in my power to resist this effort."
Loftis Middle School is located at 8611 Camp Columbus Road.