Chattanooga settles final annexation suits

Chattanooga settles final annexation suits

May 16th, 2012 by Ansley Haman in News

Ken Carey speaks during a meeting in the Chattanooga City Council chambers to discuss annexation in this file photo.

Ken Carey speaks during a meeting in the...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Chattanooga has settled the final two lawsuits stemming from a September 2009 annexation vote.

On Tuesday night the City Council agreed to amend a 2009 ordinance to give residents of the annexed areas an extra year before they have to start paying city property taxes.

Residents of neighborhoods like Ramsgate, Laurel Cove, Rose Garden, Jackson Square and West Point in the Hixson area will not become part of the city until Dec. 31, 2013.

Councilman Peter Murphy acknowledged the residents' concession.

"They've agreed to come into the city," he said. "They could have chosen not to but they didn't."

Ken Carey, treasurer of the Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation, said the group decided to settle the case on the advice of their attorney.

"Our chances of being successful had decreased dramatically," Carey said Tuesday night after the meeting.

Areas 4A and 4C were the last two pending suits from the 2009 vote, said Phil Noblett of the city attorney's office.

In other business, City Council approved a $1-a-year, 40-year lease to Sculpture Fields at Montague Park for 17 acres of Montague Park.

Councilwoman Deborah Scott questioned a provision of the lease that will allow the nonprofit to hold private events at the site with 60-days notice.

John Henry, the sculptor spearheading the project, said those events might include fundraisers for the park and closed art openings. He assured her "there would be no restricted access during those periods" to the general public. "We might just get off to the corner."

The council unanimously approved the lease.

Murphy also presented the idea of passing a nonbinding resolution asking the Tennessee Valley Authority to reconsider its tree-cutting program in rights of way. Scott said many people in her district are affected by the program and that she would support Murphy's recommendation.

"It's a pretty clear cut," she said. "Trees have been taken down in these neighborhoods for several weeks now. They've gone all the way up to front porches."