City reveals second phase of annexation

City reveals second phase of annexation

August 28th, 2009 by Cliff Hightower in News

A second wave of areas proposed for annexation into the city include the large subdivisions of Hurricane Creek, Stonewall Farms and Windstone, commercial property along Highway 58 and pockets along the side of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga officials said Thursday.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said the second phase is the last of proposed annexations this year.

"It's not the last of the annexations," he said. "I'm still interested in the entire growth area."

Kyle Holden, president of Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation and a resident of Hurricane Creek, said his newly formed organization would not rule out going to court to stop annexation. Before that happens, he said residents will need to see how the City Council votes on the proposed annexation areas. The council is expected to vote in October on the first phase. A vote on the second phase could come in November, officials said.

"We've just got to wait and see until the gavel falls," Mr. Holden said.

Annexation opponents have said they fear their property taxes will double and that city services could take years to be established. City officials counter that taxes will increase but homeowners' fire insurance rates will go down. City officials add that services will be implemented immediately.

Earlier this month, the city unveiled the first phase of annexations. Areas in that phase include the subdivisions of Ramsgate, Cummings Cove, parcels in Ooltewah and Apison Pike and a swath east of Morris Hill Road.

Staff file photo

Staff file photo

An estimated 3,500 people would be annexed into Chattanooga during the second phase, officials said. The new areas would mean more than 6,500 county residents coming into the city this year, the largest annexation by the city since the 1970s.

Mr. Littlefield said the second phase would not stretch city services because they've been incorporated into city planning with the earlier proposed annexations.

City officials have said they would build three new fire stations in Hixson, Lookout Valley and East Brainerd to handle the growth.

On Sept. 14, the city will present its new plan of services -- police, fire, sewer, garbage pickup and other services -- for the areas it plans to annex to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Mr. Holden said he would rally opponents to show up at the meeting.

"I'm sure it will be a dog-and-pony show," he said.


Mr. Littlefield said there are specific reasons for the annexations. Windstone and Hurricane Creek have a history of sewage problems that have caused spillage and odor concerns. They are currently serviced by a privately-owned sewage system, he said.

"A lot of our annexation is to solve those sewage problems," he said.

The annexation plans also extend out Ooltewah-Ringgold Road, bringing in commercial and residential property, he said.

The intersection of Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road now needs a traffic light to help with congestion from the new East Hamilton School, he said. The county does not have authority to put up traffic signals and must get approval from the state, Mr. Littlefield said. The city, however, does not need state approval, he said.

"We are the local experts on signaling intersections," Mr. Littlefield said.

Mr. Holden said he has never had a problem with his septic tank and most of the problems in Hurricane Creek are not in the county portion of the subdivision.

"The biggest sewage problem is in the city part of Hurricane Creek," he said.


Councilwoman Pam Ladd said she had not made up her mind about how to vote for some annexation areas. She has heard from many people in Stonewall Farms who live on fixed incomes and are afraid of the property tax increase, she said.

Ms. Ladd said she also has heard from younger residents who have lost jobs and are hurting for money.

"There's some who are going to be hard hit," she said.

Some annexation areas make sense if the city can provide services, she said, but residents in Stonewall Farms already have sewer and are satisfied with their police and fire protection.

"I certainly understand where they are coming from," she said. "Some areas make good sense to me, and some don't."

City Council Chairman Jack Benson said Thursday that the sewer odor and spillage problems at Windstone and Hurricane Creek and the traffic congestion at Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and East Brainerd Road need to be addressed.

"We've got to quickly do something about that," he said.


* 6,500: Total number of estimated residents affected by annexation

* 3,500: Estimated number of residents who could be annexed in first phase

* 3,000: Estimated number of people who could be annexed in second phase

Source: City of Chattanooga