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Archive for November, 2011

Petitions out for City of Hamilton Vote

November 29, 2011 5:17 PM
Reporter: Lindsay Jackson
Source: http://www.newschannel9.com/news/city-1006889-hamilton-county.html

For weeks there’s been talk of adding another city to the Tennessee Valley. A local group is trying to establish a city within Hamilton County, and they want to call it the city of Hamilton.

But in order to get that option on the ballot, they first have to get thousands of signatures.The petitions went out yesterday at 10a.m. and despite the soggy start we’ve had to this week, a couple dozen signatures are already inked.

“I’d like to see it become Hamilton City rather than Chattanooga anyway,” said Jimmie Beavers.

Beavers has lived in Ooltewah for 24 years and says he’s happy with the way things are. But with Cleveland expanding into western portions of Bradley County, and plans of more annexation from Chattanooga, Beavers says he wants to be separate from the city of Chattanooga as well as Collegedale.

“Collegedale is a small town and doesn’t offer the benefits of police protection and stuff that like we would have.; Some of the county sheriff’s seem to be doing a good job patrolling. But I’m not to happy with the Chattanooga police,” Beavers said.

More police is something Mark Ervin would like to see too. His business Fresh Fitness in Ooltewah has already been broken into once-,and he says response time by police was slow.

“I would like to see an increase in more of a police patrol. More awareness of that and giving more of a secure feeling to us as tenants here in the shopping center,” said Ervin.

Down the road, Steve Ray, who owns Midnight Oil which is a petition location, and signed the paper himself.

“I’m not enthused about any more government or another city. That doesn’t enthuse me one bit,” Ray said.

But, he says, that may be what it takes. His business was annexed in 2002 and he says so far, the only thing that’s happened, is extra bills.

“The service part, it just doesn’t happen. And it’s not a throw off on the city of Chattanooga, its fact. It’s just financial fact. It’s another extra bill. And I pay it here and I don’t wanna pay it at the house,” he said.

In order to get this on the next ballot, Friends of Hamilton who are organizing the movement, must get 33.3% of registered voters within the city boundary to sign the petitions.

If you’d like to sign the petitions, they can be found at these locations: Steve Ray Midnight Oil & Steve Ray Golfcarts, Fresh Fitness, Gymnastics Centers of Chattanooga, Savannah Valley Utility District, and Volunteer Electric Cooperative.

For more information, go to FriendsofHamilton.org

Categories: General

Megapolitan areas compete globally

It’s important our residents take an active role in their future planning. This recent article in USA Today demonstrates the thought process and references Chattanooga and the 40 year plan.

————-
USA Today
Date: 11/17/11
Megapolitan areas compete globally
By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY
Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-11-17/megapolitan/51451598/1

Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University outside of Phoenix, last month ventured into potentially hostile territory 120 miles south in Tucson, home of the University of Arizona, to address 600 civic and business leaders.

His message was jaw-dropping: Put aside the rivalry between the universities and the metropolitan areas and join forces to form one giant urban powerhouse to compete globally with an economy larger than that of the United Arab Emirates.

“Competitiveness between two communities gets us nowhere,” Crow says. “We’ve been asleep at the switch too long.”

STORY: Migration slowdown is Sun Belt’s loss

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-03/migration-states-sunbelt/50647142/1

No tomatoes thrown. No booing. Instead, warm applause. Crow was lauded for his frank message calling on counties from Phoenix to Tucson to compete for new jobs — not against each other but with each other against other regions of the nation and the world.

The long-struggling U.S. economy has made once-competing municipalities more receptive to that message. They’re reaching across county lines and even state borders and aligning themselves as one economic bloc.

It’s the birth of a new geography: “megapolitans,” regions that encompass cities and counties linked through man-made and natural connections such as shared transportation networks, labor markets or water supplies.

Because population and economic growth is not spread evenly across the country (the 309 million Americans occupy only a quarter of all private land), planners and demographers for several years have advocated planning on a scale larger than cities, metropolitan areas or states.

A new book details this urban geography. It predicts that by 2040, there will be 10 distinct clusters composed of 23 megapolitan areas in the contiguous 48 states. The Phoenix-Tucson area, for example, is in the Sun Corridor megapolitan area, part of the Southwest megapolitan cluster that includes Las Vegas and Southern California.

“The threat of global competition has made these regions seek each other out for competitive advantage,” says Robert Lang, co-author of Megapolitan America. “There are a lot of cities that don’t like each other. Tucson and Phoenix have been at each other’s throats, but when it comes to industries like solar or optics … from a global perspective, this is the same region.”

He and co-author Arthur C. Nelson say the sooner the nation recognizes that it is made up of a series of densely populated economic engines, the better off it will be because public policy and economic development will target where people live, not where they don’t.

“These regions are now merging, and that’s the geography by which America accesses the global economy,” says Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Crow says economic competition is less about the USA vs. China than megapolitan areas here competing with Shanghai or Hong Kong.

The authors define megapolitans as having at least one metropolitan area of 2 million people by 2040 that’s connected — via commuting patterns — to at least one other metro area of more than 250,000 people. A megapolitan cluster has several megapolitan areas that are connected by commuting, trucking or commuter airline and share terrain, climate, culture, economic base and political culture.

“The larger the population base of an area, the more jobs are created just because of sheer scale,” says Nelson, planning professor at the University of Utah.

These mega-connections are emerging:

•Switch, which runs data centers and provides related services, is based in Las Vegas. Its clients are in Nevada, Arizona and California.

“We have key executives from our management team based in Phoenix, Southern and Northern California as well as Las Vegas,” says Jason Mendenhall, executive vice president.

Many Switch employees work remotely and commute to Las Vegas offices once or twice a week. “They go to the airport, jump on a plane and get to our office,” Mendenhall says. “We embraced the megapolitan concept because technology makes that possible.”

•When Volkswagen decided to open a plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. — a $1 billion investment creating 2,000 jobs — several local leaders went to Greenville, S.C., where a BMW plant opened in the early 1990s, to see how they could prepare for growth.

“Folks in Greenville said, ‘We did not anticipate how the growth would impact us,’ and also they didn’t realize how important it was to think regionally,” says J.Ed Marston, vice president of marketing and communications at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Citizens and governments in 16 counties in three states (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) affected by the new plant are working together to prepare the region for everything from transportation to housing needs.

“We all rely on the same labor pool, the same interstate system, the same supply of drinking water,” Marston says. “In many ways, our fates are intertwined.”

Categories: General

Petition Drive Starts For New City Of Hamilton

Posted November 28, 2011
Source: http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_214359.asp

A petition drive has begun to organize a new city of Hamilton in the northern portion of the county east of the Tennessee River.

Chris Matthews, president of Friends of Hamilton, said the proposed city covers an area of 15,000-20,000 residents.

He told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that residents in that area need to act prior to possible changes in the Urban Growth Boundary. At the request of Mayor Ron Littlefield, a meeting is set of local mayors on Dec. 15 to determine whether to reopen and make changes to the Urban Growth Plan.

Trustee Bill Hullander said at the meeting on Monday that he thought that plan was set to stay in place through as least 2020. He said under the plan the city of Chattanooga could not come north of Hunter Road.

Mayor Littlefield asked to expand the city limits as far north as the Bradley County line.

Mr. Matthews said citizens north of Hunter Road “clearly voiced that they do not want to be part of Chattanooga.”

He said Hamilton will have a very conservative budget and contract for services wherever possible, including with the Highway 58 Volunteer Department for fire services and with the sheriff’s office for police services. He said there are three garbage firms available so there are no plans to offer municipal garbage service.

Sheriff Jim Hammond said he has been in talks with the group and he is “keeping an open mind.” He said the sheriff’s office already contracts with Walden and Lakesite.

County Commission Chairman Larry Henry said, “I think the people in the unincorporated area should have a voice on what’s going on (on annexation) and what they are paying their taxes for.”

City Councilman Manny Rico said, “I work for the city and I try to do what’s best for the city. Ya’ll have to do what’s best for ya’ll.”

Mr. Matthews said the group started meeting in August with a focus initially on Ooltewah. He said the group found interest in an area spreading all the way to the Soddy Daisy and Lakesite boundaries and all the way to the Bradley line.

He said after the group started, there was the announcement from Mayor Littlefield. Then he said Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland “said he wanted to annex to the Hamilton County line.”

Mr. Matthews said his area “was getting hit from both sides.”

He said it is possible for a city to extend beyond a county line, noting that Atlanta is in five counties.

Brendan Jennings, another leader of the group, said, “This isn’t anything against Mayor Littlefield.” He said another Chattanooga mayor would likely take the same stance on growth of the city.

Residents of the affected area may sign petitions at the following locations between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday:

Steve Ray Midnight Oil & Steve Ray Golfcarts
9043 Lee Highway
Ooltewah, TN 37363

Fresh Fitness – Publix Shopping Center (Snow Hill & Mountain View)
5958 Snow Hill Road,
Suite 116
Ooltewah, TN 37363

Gymnastics Centers of Chattanooga
6855 Mountain View Road
Ooltewah, TN 37363

Savannah Valley Utility District
10700 Hwy 58
Georgetown, TN 37336

Volunteer Electric Cooperative
8212 Mahan Gap Road
Georgetown, TN 37363

Additional locations will soon be announced; please check back at http://www.friendsofhamilton.org/petition for an up-to-date list of locations. [Sample petition attached separately.]

Friends of Hamilton is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization. It was created “in response to growing demands by residents and business operators in Ooltewah and nearby communities to have a greater voice over determining the future of their fast-growing communities.”

For more information on this issue, go to FriendsOfHamilton.org.

Categories: General

Chattanooga growth plan draws spirited banter

The resident’s of Hamilton area need to pay attention to the Urban Growth Plan for the next 40 years in conjunction with Chattanooga mayors to open the urban growth plan and forget the current 20 year plan. The following article is about the 40 year growth plan.

Author: Mike Pare

Date: 10/07/2011

Source: http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/18/chattanooga-growth-plan-draws-spirited-banter/

Planners and the public engaged in a spirited, sometimes testy debate Thursday over the 16-county, long-range growth planning effort.

At a meeting of more than 200 people in downtown Chattanooga, three planning groups each seeking to lead the initiative explained what they could bring to the table if selected.

But they also were met by a small but vocal group that expressed worries over issues such as property rights, transparency of the process and an imposition of urban growth boundaries.

“My biggest concern is that Chattanooga is driving this,” said Polk County, Tenn., resident Karen Bracken.

Each planning group sought to allay concerns.

C. Gregory Dale, leading the McBride Dale Clarion team, said people should talk to others in places where his firm already has worked.

“We are open, transparent, fair,” he said. “We pride ourselves on listening.”

Chris Sinclair, of Renaissance Planning Group, said he doesn’t see how a proposed 40-year growth plan could affect property rights.

“It’s not about whether rights or any choices are taken away from you,” he said.

David Rouse, of Wallace Roberts & Todd, said he’s committed to an open process, and that property rights won’t be impacted without the public’s consent.

ECONOMIC FOCUS

Each team said at the public meeting that jobs and bolstering the economy are viewed as key to the plan, which could take two to three years to craft after work starts early in 2012.

In addition, Dale said a quality environment and lower taxes could be outcomes for the effort that involves counties in the tri-state area.

“It could result in a more tax-friendly environment,” he said.

Sinclair talked about developing a vision for the region, and he added the effort is about jobs as well as the infrastructure to train people and the ability to move around the region.

“It’s about jobs, certainly, but it’s about the quality of the job,” he said.

Rouse said more and better jobs is “a huge issue for the future.”

Additionally, he cited the area’s natural beauty and the issues of clean air and water.

Bradley County, Tenn., Mayor Gary Davis noted that a regional growth strategy is needed because “dollars cross boundaries.”

Walker County, Ga., Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said the region is competing against the world. The plan, she said, would give the area an advantage.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said the effort is a continuation of a process that started in the 1980s when the city undertook a visioning initiative.

“It’s about building on our past,” he said.

However, June Griffin of Rhea County expressed worries about the initiative. She thought the effort was “a totally controlled situation.”

There were also concerns expressed that the planning process could bring about implementing of Agenda 21, which is an action plan of the United Nations related to sustainable development.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce included creation of a 35- to 50-year growth plan in its newest jobs initiative unveiled late last year dubbed “Chattanooga Can Do: Building Tomorrow Today.”

The city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County government and area foundations have pledged $3 million for the effort.

Also, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger received the OK from the county commission to try for $2.5 million in federal grant money to help fund the project.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

The winning planning team is expected to be selected before year’s end, with the initiative to begin early in 2012.


REGIONAL FOOTPRINT

Counties in the planning study:

• Tennessee: Hamilton, Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, Marion

• Georgia: Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray

• Alabama: Jackson, DeKalb


OVERSIGHT TASK FORCE

Corinne Allen, Benwood Foundation president; Brian Anderson, Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce CEO; Mike Babb, Whitfield County board of commissioners chairman; Bruz Clark, Lyndhurst Foundation president; Pete Cooper, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga president; Jim Coppinger, Hamilton County mayor; D. Gary Davis, Bradley County mayor; Gary Farlow, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce CEO; Ron Harr, immediate past Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce chairman; Beth Jones, Southeast Tennessee Development District executive director; Ron Littlefield, Chattanooga mayor; Tom McCallie, Maclellan Family Foundations representative; Tom Edd Wilson, Chattanooga Chamber CEO

Categories: General

Group Wants Churches to Help Gain Support for New City

November 16, 2011 9:17 PM
Video Story

A group against annexation is taking the next step in creating a new city in Hamilton County. Friends of Hamilton is sending out letters to churches urging them to support a new city they want to call, “Hamilton.”

“You go to where the people are and people go to churches, especially in this county,” said Brendan Jennings with Friends of Hamilton.

The group wants to create a new city called Hamilton in the northern part of the county. This week they sent a letter to about 30 churches in that area asking to support the new city. It would compose parts of Ooltewah and Harrison, north to Birchwood, and east toward Georgetown.

“In another 20 years we don’t know what that area is going to look like and we believe this may be the only chance for the residents and the businesses and the area to actually make sure that their voice counts,” Jennings said.

Friends of Hamilton wants churches to help them get the issue on the ballot next year.  That will take signatures from residents in the proposed city limits. Jennings says some churches are on board to help, and others want to stay behind the scenes. We met Craig Brown at Ooltewah United Methodist who lives in an area that would become the city of Hamilton to get his take on the idea and the strategy.

“I would be open to the idea of it because I don’t want to be in the city of Chattanooga. So if something’s going to happen I would at least like to see and explore the Hamilton verses I know I don’t want to be in the city of Chattanooga,” said Brown.

The petitions will start circulating once the Hamilton County election commission approves it. They’ll need 4,000 signatures from registered voters in the proposed city limits to get on the ballot next November.

To learn more about the city of Hamilton and how to get involved, click here.

“Friends of Hamilton” Seek Help From Churches

News Channel 12

Source: http://www.wdef.com/news/story/no-title/f1LknJ7Z_0KjKSqY7RJ9lg.cspx

See Video at Link Above

The group who want to keep unincorporated areas out of Chattanooga, is taking another approach.
Friends of Hamilton is contacting churches in the county who may take a financial hit if their district gets annexed.Friends of Hamilton say they sent out 30 letters pointing out to churches that their expenses will be going up if the annexation proposal is successful.
The letter says Bayside Baptist in Harrison, which was annexed in 2009, saw its property taxes “increase by nearly 90%..and faced storm water fees of about 12-thousand dollars”.
Bayside Baptist Church leaders would not discuss those figures, but they are not completely correct.
County tax assessor Bill Bennett told us the church actually owns four parcels of land, and only one—a vacant lot, is taxed.
But, the church does pay about 12-thousand dollars a year in storm water fees.
Friends of Hamilton president Chris Matthews says churches need to know they will face that if annexed.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, PRES. FRIENDS OF HAMILTON “Some churches in the area are looking at fees of 13-thousand dollars..in storm water run-off fees alone.”

BRENDAN JENNINGS, FRIENDS OF HAMILTON “We will have some petition drives at some of the churches up in that part of the county.”

Matthews’ group want to gather 4000 signatures from county residents before next September to put the issue on the ballot.
He hopes the churches can help in several ways.

CHRIS MATTHEWS “The churches are community leaders in the area..we wanted to let them reach out to their congregation to also let them know.”

The Friends group did not provide a list of which churches were contacted but pastors we spoke with were not aware of the campaign.
One church figure voiced concern that its non-profit, tax exempt status could be threatened by saying too much about the highly political annexation or incorporation ideas.
Kyle Holden is president of the Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation.
That group has the city’s plans tied up in court.
Holden says he is sympathetic with “Friends of Hamilton”, but doesn’t think it will fit all the county residents now facing annexation.

Hamilton city plan advances

Times Freepress

by Ansley Haman

Source: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/16/a1-hamilton-city-plan-advances/

An effort to incorporate the new town of Hamilton is in full swing.

Last month, a group calling itself Friends of Hamilton chartered a civic organization to shepherd an initiative establishing the town on the November 2012 ballot. This week, members are calling on churches and businesses to help collect at least 4,000 signatures in the next nine months, roughly one-third of the estimated 12,000 registered voters who would be drawn into their proposed boundaries.

Hamilton would be “sandwiched” between Cleveland and Chattanooga in unincorporated areas of Birchwood, Harrison and Ooltewah, said Friends of Hamilton President Chris Matthews. The group is shooting to put the measure on the ballot next year to pre-empt the cities of Cleveland and Chattanooga from annexing areas near them, he said.

“That’s why we’re saying the time is now. The city of Cleveland has already said they want to annex all the way to the county line,” Matthews said. “I’ve seen Chattanooga on a sprint to get out to the Bradley County line.”

The group first announced its intention to incorporate in the days after Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield asked to reopen the county’s urban growth plan for review. On Dec. 15, County Mayor Jim Coppinger will convene a coordinating committee to reopen the 20-year plan, passed in 2001.

State law sets out detailed requirements for a town to incorporate. The petition must be signed by 33.3 percent of registered voters in the proposed area, which must include at least 1,500 residents. The petition also must contain information about the town’s services, which would include some basic services such as police and fire.

A property tax rate also must be set prior to incorporation. Though town leaders would be required to begin services upon its incorporation, the town’s property tax revenues would be escrowed for a year and its sales tax would continue to go to the county for 10 years.

Municipal bonds might be an option in the meantime, Matthews said. and a finance team is considering options.

Public hearings also are required and will be scheduled, Matthews said.

Hamilton County Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said the group must turn the completed petition in to the commission before the beginning of September 2012 to get it on next year’s November presidential general election ballot.

If the Friends of Hamilton are successful, Mullis-Morgan said this would be the first time in her decades at the election commission that an attempt to incorporate makes it to the ballot.

“This is a big undertaking,” she said.

Anti-Annexation Group Sends Warning Letter To Pastors

 

 

 

posted November 15, 2011

Source: http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_213567.asp
Friends of Hamilton, a non-profit anti-annexation group, has sent a letter via e-mail to pastors at nearly 30 churches in northeast Hamilton County “to warn them that they are being targeted for more burdensome taxes and fees.”

Chris Matthews, president, said, “We believe these churches and their members will be among the hardest to be hit if Chattanooga Mayor Littlefield is successful at changing urban growth boundaries, which will enable the city to annex larger portions of Ooltewah and Harrison.”

The letter states:

November 12, 2011

A Message to Pastors of Northeast Hamilton County Churches

Dear Pastors, I am writing you today about change coming to our area and how we need your help as leaders in the community.

In 2009, the City of Chattanooga annexed properties along Highway 58 in Harrison, including Bayside Baptist Church. State laws gave Bayside no voice in the annexation. As a result, the church saw its property taxes increase nearly 90% and faced stormwater fees of about $12,000 along with other costs.[i] Bayside is a large church that has significantly expanded in the past 20 years. Most churches in the northern part of Hamilton County aren’t as large and as able to deal with such added costs.

Now, the City of Chattanooga is attempting to annex areas in Ooltewah and Harrison, extending its reach from previous annexations as a result of VW, Amazon and other employers investing in our area. The City of Cleveland appears to be looking to annex faster-growing parts of Georgetown and Birchwood near its urban growth boundaries. Within the next few years, the state plans to build a bridge across the Tennessee River near Mahan Gap Road.[ii]

Economic growth is bringing more residents and urbanization pressures to northeastern Hamilton County. Incorporated cities look at the potential for further growth this area can bring and they want to claim those tax dollars for themselves. What we have seen from the recent Chattanooga annexations is that citizens and businesses being annexed have little say in the matter. They instantly see their tax rates go up and get charged for stormwater and other fees, yet they often don’t see the promised services for years.

The good news is that citizens of Ooltewah, Harrison, Georgetown and Birchwood don’t have to sit passively by and watch their churches, residential areas and businesses get gobbled up by established cities hungry for more tax dollars. There is another way.

Some business and community leaders in northern Hamilton County have created a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization called Friends Of Hamilton. Our mission is simple: to create the model city of Hamilton, with very limited infrastructure services required by the state and requested by its citizens. We believe that our people will be better served having their interests represented more locally instead of 23 miles away in Downtown Chattanooga. Our objective is to increase the quality of life, keep property taxes low and streamline government operations.

While state law will require this new city, like any city, to collect property taxes, we look to minimize government costs by tightly controlling what services the city would need to offer by contracting some to current providers. The City of Walden, for example, contracts with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department to provide police services. It also contracts other services out to other public and private entities. And its tax rates are among the lowest for cities in Hamilton County.

We aim to provide area citizens more responsive government while tightly controlling the purse strings. Our group leaders are business and community leaders, not politicians, so we have every incentive to live up to our organizational goals. The time to take action is NOW!

In order to do this, we need your help.

First, we need reliable volunteer leaders who can help us spearhead our petition canvassing efforts; people who can go to local events, public areas and businesses and get qualified residents to sign petitions.

Second, we need your donations. These donations help provide you with a more effective local voice. When you balance a nearly 90% property tax hike with annexation versus incorporating the new City of Hamilton, your donations can save you significant dollars later!

Finally, please tell your friends, family and neighbors about the FriendsOfHamilton.org website, and have them follow us for updates on Facebook or Twitter.

Our area is blessed by the quality of the people who live here, by its natural resources and by the economic growth that appears to be soon at hand. With your help and your prayers, we can have a greater voice in the future development of this portion of Hamilton County while more effectively responding to peoples needs.

The time is NOW!

Thank you.

Chris Matthews
President
Friends of Hamilton
http://www.FriendsOfHamilton.org

Categories: News

New Friends Of Hamilton Brochure

The Friends of Hamilton release a printable brochure to hand out to our neighbors.

Friends of Hamilton Brochure

Categories: General

Hamilton County residents reject urban growth plans as groundwork for annexation

By Beverly A. Carroll

Published Wednesday, November 9, 2011 9:14 am EST

Source: http://www.nooga.com/22618_hamilton-county-residents-reject-urban-growth-plans-as-groundwork-for-annexation/

A Tuesday night meeting at Loftis Middle School took on occasional tones of a tent revival as Hamilton County Commissioner Mitch McClure—a preacher in his professional life—addressed the nearly 200 attendees on urban growth plans.

McClure urged the crowd, made up mostly of Middle Valley area residents, to make known their displeasure with plans to review the urban growth boundaries, which are only the ground work for future annexation, he said.

“I believe in freedom of choice,” McClure told a cheering group gathered at the school’s gymnasium. “That’s what this country is all about, freedom of choice. I almost said amen, I’m about to start preaching.”

McClure invited residents from District 3, which he represents, to attend the meeting to discuss plans to convene an urban growth committee. Required in 1998 by the state constitution, the 2001 urban growth plan shows where incorporated areas plan to expand their boundaries over a 20-year period. Under state law, a review committee can be called by a request from a representative of a municipality included in the original plan. At the request of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger has activated the process and set a meeting Dec. 15, meeting a 60 day deadline.

“This is like a hostile takeover,” Brenda Erwin said during the hour-long meeting. “It’s just laying the groundwork for annexation. We’re determined to stop it, we are going to write letters, emails and make phone calls to local and state legislators.”

Residents expressed concerns about paying more taxes and getting less services if they are annexed by the city of Chattanooga. Some said they believe the city just wants to annex them to get their property for future projects, such as a large prison, and others said they were angry that they cannot vote on the issue.

“Why are we here if we can’t vote,” said one woman. “What is the point.”

McClure, who was appointed to the District 3 seat after Jim Coppinger was selected to replace former county Mayor Claude Ramsey, told the crowd that they show strength in numbers.

McClure also made mention of a “certain City Council member who has a radio show,” who he said called Middle Valley residents hypocrites for using city services but not paying for them.

“I’m mad, that makes me mad,” he said, referring to Councilman Andrae McGary, who hosts WGOW’s Live and Local radio show.

Residents who are annexed will be forced to assume Chattanooga’s debts, McClure said. And the county has assumed the full costs of the city jail and the school system, he added.

Another woman asked, to sounds of approval from the crowd, why the city didn’t help pay for part of the schools.

But Chattanooga City Council members and other city officials said city tax payers do pay for the jail, the schools and other county services that city residents do not benefit from, such as fire service. City property owners pay county taxes, and taxes paid from city property owners make up 58 percent of the Hamilton County general budget.

Retired Dallas Bay volunteer fire Chief Al Rosamond said Tuesday’s gathering is the beginning of a grassroots effort that can stop the annexation of unincorporated areas.

“Start with the local politicians, small city and county ones, that are going to be appointing people to the urban growth committee,” Rosamond said. “Let them know if they don’t appoint someone who does what we want, we will vote them out.”

Other residents said that it will be difficult for those who live in the unincorporated areas because they cannot threaten Soddy-Daisy or Lakesite elected officials with campaigning against them.

The urban growth committee must have one representative from each incorporated community inside the county, as well as the county government. Then members of the school board and chamber of commerce must be represented, as required by the state law governing the formation of the committee. The decision to accept a plan must be unanimous.

Some residents asked if they had the one “no” vote from Coppinger, why should they worry about this plan.

McClure said turning out in large numbers would send a message to lawmakers.

“You can never have enough to be sure,” he said. “Better to have a super majority to send a message.”

Aaron Shipley, an area realtor, said residents should call Chattanooga City Council members and tell them they are against it. Those council members will take their message to Littlefield, he said.

McClure, who is running for the County Commission’s District 3 seat in a special election in 2012, said the residents must write their state legislators to get the law changed to allow citizen votes on urban growth plans and annexation plans.

Categories: News
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