NASHVILLE - Tennessee cities would be stripped of their legal ability to annex by ordinance on May 15, 2015 under a bill approved today by the state Senate.
Senators voted 27-1 for the bill, which was sponsored by Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson, R-Hixson. The House version, sponsored by Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, remains under considerations.
It would require referendum votes from persons living in areas that cities wish to annex. The bill would not impact consensual annexations in which property owners ask to come into a city.
Responding to cities and other critics that say the bill will stymie development and growth, Watson said, "Tennessee is one of three states that uses this methodology. But the 20 fastest-growing cities in the country do not have annexation by ordinance. By repealing this ... it is not an impediment to cities' growth. That is a false argument."
The bill extends the current moratorium on what critics call "forced annexation" until May 15, 2015. It excludes annexations by consent.
Beginning on May 16, 2015, it eliminates' cities' current right to annex by ordinance, leaving annexation by consent through a referendum or other request to come into the city by property as the only means available.
The bill also continues a current annexation study being conducted by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.