North Hamilton County residents are speaking out about their opposition to the expansion of Chattanooga's urban growth boundaries and the potential annexation of their property into the city of Chattanooga.
Hamilton County District 3 Commissioner Mitch McClure has suggestions for concerned citizens as to what can be done to help prevent the "hostile takeover." He spoke candidly with residents at a recent town hall style meeting he called at Loftis Middle School so area residents could share their views on the matter.
He suggested packing the Hamilton County Courthouse for the first meeting of the urban growth committee, which is composed of Hamilton County commissioners and representatives from area municipalities who will vote on the issue. The meeting is set for Thursday, Dec. 16. at 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of the courthouse.
"This is grassroots; this is where it starts," said Hixson resident Al Rosamond. "Tell the commissioners what you want to come out of this [urban growth] committee."
Area mayors such as Jim Adams of Soddy-Daisy and Ken Wilkerson of Lakesite or their appointed representatives will be on the urban growth decision making committee and are good people to contact at the local level, said McClure.
He also recommended calling local talk shows and writing letters to the editors of area publications as well as to state representatives in Nashville.
"The real key to this is our representatives in Nashville," he said. "Ultimately the law needs to be changed so there is no annexation without the citizens being given the right to vote."
He said part of the issue is that residents of previously unincorporated areas, such as portions of Lookout Valley, who have already been annexed into the city of Chattanooga complain of paying higher taxes without receiving any public services.
"You're looking at a tremendous amount of land coming into the city of Chattanooga, and I don't think you'll be able to get the services," said McClure.
"Chattanooga should consider county residents [in unincorporated areas] to be cheap tourists," said Hixson resident Gene Hay. "Tourists come to the city and use the same roads and services people from the county do when we go spend our money there, and [the city of Chattanooga] spends millions of dollars to get tourists to come to this city."