Urban growth committee nixes Chattanooga growth plan

Urban growth committee nixes Chattanooga growth plan

December 16th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Dan Johnson, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's Chief of Staff

Photo by David Banks

HOW THEY VOTED


Against the proposal made by Chattanooga to reopen the growth boundaries:

• Jim Adams, Soddy-Daisy mayor

• Rob Bradham, representative for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

• Greg Brown, Lookout Mountain mayor

• Al Cox, representative for Hamilton County

• Mike Evatt, Hamilton County Board of Education

• Tim Gobble, East Ridge representative

• Bill Lusk, Signal Mountain mayor

• Monty Millard, Red Bank mayor

• John Turner, Collegedale mayor

• Dr. Patrick Tyree, soil conservation

• Ken Wilkerson, Lakesite mayor

• Jim Coppinger, chairman and Hamilton County mayor

Voting for the proposal:

• Richard Beeland, Chattanooga representative

• Harold Depriest, EPB

• Dan Johnson, Chattanooga chief of staff

• Candice Poole, Ridgeside mayor

• Helen Burns Sharp, Chattanooga representative

Abstentions:

• Michael Stewart, Walden city attorney

• Mary Stewart Lewis, AT&T representative

Mayor Ron Littlefield was handed a political defeat Thursday night on the heels of two legal defeats within the last two months.

An urban growth committee he asked to be commissioned voted 12-5 Thursday night not to entertain any proposals from Chattanooga on opening up talks on urban growth boundaries or consolidation. Two members abstained.

"The burden of proof was on the city of Chattanooga," said County Mayor Jim Coppinger, chairman of the committee. "As they stated, they had no specific amendment."

The meeting lasted for about 20 minutes with a five-minute recess to record vote tallies. In the end, the Chattanooga mayor, who is in Germany this week on business, could only rustle up a literal handful of votes.

"We can request another amendment by the urban growth boundary," said Richard Beeland, spokesman for the mayor and a hand-picked member of the committee for the city.

He said he did not know yet if the mayor would try and request the committee to convene again. Beeland said after the meeting he did not think the city had to provide a "specific amendment" and said the meeting was more for the communities to start talking about steps toward handling rapid growth occurring across the county.

"Now's not the time for amendments," he said.

Littlefield sent Coppinger letters in October asking that the urban growth boundary reconvene, citing rapid growth countywide. The Chattanooga mayor wanted to expand its urban growth boundaries northward toward Bradley County and Soddy-Daisy.

The urban growth boundaries were set in 2001 after a state mandate. The boundaries dictate how far municipalities can annex.

Dan Johnson, chief of staff for Littlefield, presented the city's proposal Tuesday night to the committee.

Johnson spoke for five minutes about the need to reopen the urban growth boundaries because of growth, and how all cities and the county needed to be able to guide the growth.

He also spent several minutes talking about the need for talk about consolidation of services like police, fire, parks and recreation and public works.

But he said Littlefield did not come with a specific proposal.

"He doesn't have a hard and fast rule on what the amendment should be right now," Johnson said.

But Coppinger said after the meeting he felt the city did need to have a specific amendment. He said no further meetings of the urban growth committee would be planned.

"Tonight, the procedures were what was called for," he said.

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