An annexation lawsuit involving a group of Highway 58 area residents and businesses is moving forward, with depositions now under way. The court date is scheduled for June 1.
"I prefer not to delve that much into the matter; it's just a matter to be decided by the court," City Attorney Mike McMahan said in regards to the city's "first [annexation lawsuit] to go to court in recent years."
Mayor spokesperson Richard Beeland followed policy and declined to comment on what the outcome could mean since the issue is pending litigation.
Kyle Holden, president for Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation, a collective group formed to help citizens in such matters, did not rule out the possibility of appeals should the judge's decision favor the city.
"It's really up to the plaintiffs in the individual areas where they want to go," he explained. "If they want to appeal, we're going to stand behind them. We're not forcing anybody to go to court over this. All we're doing is providing them access to Tennessee's premier annexation attorney, David Buuck, and basically paying for the legal services."
Regardless of what happens with this particular trial, there may be more court time over the larger issue. At last count HCRAA had filed 14 lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs.
"All it takes for our area is one more reading of the [annexation] ordinance; if they pass it then we'll have 30 days to file our [court] case," said Holden, who lives in East Brainerd's Hurricane Creek Estates.
His subdivision along with Emerald Valley, Windstone and portions of East Brainerd Road were annexed on first reading last year. The mayor then tabled further annexations pending official discussion of metro government. Approximately 25 residents from those areas have already signed up to take the issue to court should it move forward.
"We are trying to show that the city cannot afford these annexations," Holden said, "that they're not annexing for the purpose of the health and welfare of those of us the city is trying to annex, which is actually in the annexation statutes for the state. They've also indicated time and time again that it's for the purpose of revenue. The state does not allow annexation for the purpose of revenue enhancement."
The city's annexation plan, which follows its urban growth boundary, also includes unincorporated portions of Ooltewah and a large section bordering Collegedale.