The first steps of new annexations by Chattanooga could happen within the next five to six months, City Attorney Mike McMahan said this week.
"(The mayor) did indicate he'd hope we'd make some decisions this year," Mr. McMahan said.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said in his inauguration speech two months ago that he wanted to annex all property within the city's already designated urban growth plan, a 20-year county plan adopted in 2001. That area includes large swaths in East Brainerd, along state Highway 58 and Ooltewah and Hixson Pike.
To begin the process of annexation, the city attorney's office must present a plan of services to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. The planning commission votes on it and, if approved, the plan will go before the City Council as an ordinance to be voted on twice, officials said.
Mr. McMahan said the city has started assessing where the best possible locations for annexation would be at this time.
"It's going to be a lengthy process," he said.
Mr. Littlefield said Friday that it is not too soon to begin the process.
"It's not necessarily haste," he said. "You have to set a plan or nothing gets done."
He said annexing all the land within the growth plan could take his entire four-year term. That's one reason he wants to start the process, he said.
"I want to move ahead with all due speed," Mr. Littlefield said.
Some City Council members have expressed reservations about annexing areas without knowing the proper services would be in place. Council Chairman Jack Benson said Friday he does not expect contention among council members because everyone has an "open mind."
He said annexation could help some unincorporated areas.
"Since East Brainerd was annexed, the property value and quality of life has gone up considerably," he said.