CHARLESTON, Tenn. - The first public hearing on Charleston's proposed annexation of 135 acres southwest of the city drew a divided handful of the estimated 272 Bradley County residents in the target area.
Earlier this week, about half a dozen people affected by the plan asked about city services or spoke against the annexation.
"I just don't see that you could offer that much for the residents up there," said Constable Richard "Dickie" Alford, a Maplecrest subdivision resident. "I have talked to two or three neighbors, and they're opposed to it."
He said there are two other law enforcement officers in Maplecrest, and he doesn't think Charleston's police force could do much more for the neighborhood.
Tony Schlaeger, whose farm would be touched by the proposed incorporation, also objected and called annexation plans a "one-sided deal."
Charleston Mayor Walter Goode voiced concern that many people whose properties would be annexed didn't attend the hearing. The plan has been discussed often at City Commission meetings and has been reported on for at least a year, he said.
In that time, Goode said, people have said nothing but positive things to him about the proposed annexation.
"It's not about the revenue," said Goode, who added that homeowners might be better off if annexed.
According to a Municipal Technical Advisory Service analysis, an owner of property valued at $131,000 would save up to $200 a year because of garbage pickup service and possible homeowner insurance discounts.
The biggest advantage to the city, Goode said, will be pushing its population closer to 1,000, a major benchmark toward qualifying for more state and federal grants. It is expected the city will be fewer than 40 residents shy of that number when annexation is completed.
Charleston City Commissioner Donna McDermott called the annexation "just a step up" in the city's life. Growth will nurture needs such as a library, an improved park and a bank, she said.
"Where we live is not going to stay the way that it is right now," said Charleston resident Faye Callaway. "We're going to have growth whether we like it or not because of all the industry that's coming to our town."
City leaders urged residents to consider the value of maintaining its heritage. They also warned that northbound annexation by Cleveland could challenge the city's growth.