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Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield wants new pitch to urban growth panel

December 24th, 2011
by Cliff Hightower
Source: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/dec/24/mayor-ron-littlefield-wants-new-pitch-to-panel/?local

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said this week he plans to ask Hamilton County officials to reconvene the urban growth boundary committee, even though they shot down the idea two weeks ago.

“Just having one meeting and one vote is not the end of the story,” Littlefield said. “That’s the beginning of the story.”

County Mayor Jim Coppinger responded by saying the law does give the mayor the right to call the committee together again. But he said the law also requires the city to make a proposal and for the committee to vote on that proposal. He noted at the last meeting the city did not have a specific proposal.

“It’s an acting committee,” he said. “It’s not so much a planning committee.”

The urban growth boundary committee met two weeks ago and voted 12-5 not to hear any kind of proposal about expanding the boundaries for cities within Hamilton County. The boundaries dictate how far and where cities can annex property.

The boundaries were set in 2001 by the cities and counties after the state Legislature mandated the move to try to circumvent quarreling over city expansion.

Littlefield said he now has a strategy for the next meeting.

“Now we know who is on the urban growth committee,” he said. “We’ll begin conversing with them.”

But several members of the committee who voted against Chattanooga’s proposal said Friday a conversation would not turn their vote.

Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk said he is surprised the mayor would not have known who was on the committee since the majority of the committee was made up of all the mayors in the county.

“I suspect he knew the potential committee members long before that,” he said.

And Lusk said he doesn’t think his vote will change.

“I do not believe the town of Signal Mountain should have a voice in Chattanooga’s expansion,” he said, and Signal Mountain doesn’t need to move its boundaries at this time.

Lakesite Mayor Ken Wilkerson said the City Commission voted unanimously against the expansion of Chattanooga’s borders.

“We are totally against any proposal or plan by the city of Chattanooga on the west side of the Tennessee River,” he said. “Especially if it encroaches our locks in Lakesite.”

Red Bank Mayor Monty Millard said he believes residents of affected annexation areas should have a right to vote on any annexation of their areas. And he said he is staunch in his decision against Chattanooga’s plan to change the boundaries.

“I don’t think it’s going to do any good for me to change my vote,” he said. “Even with a call from Mayor Littlefield.”

FOH Opinion on Urban Growth Plan Defeat

The good news, the attempt to reopen the Urban Growth Plan is defeated in 12-5 vote. This is a short term victory for residents of the unincorporated area of Hamilton County. The Friends of Hamilton (FOH) community group recognizes additional challenges still remain for residents in North Hamilton County. Here is why, the victory tonight is specific to Chattanooga’s request to open the plan, however other cities in the area have the right to reopen the growth plan (Collegedale, Ridgeside, etc) so it can be reopened again and again.

Additionally, this does not restrict the City of Cleveland from moving forward with their plans to annex to the county line. If Cleveland reaches the Hamilton/Bradley county line, any future efforts to incorporate Hamilton may no longer be available due to the 3 mile boundary from an existing city and population requirement for 1500 residents. The City of Chattanooga is likely to reopen the plan in the future with a new mayor, city council or different county government. We need to invest in our local community and not become beholden to another city. FOH promotes a citizen run government, term limits and low infrastructure while maintaining the quality of life we have come to enjoy.

FOH does NOT support the agenda 21 UN initiative and strongly believes in private property provisions defined in the US Constitution and our democratic process to vote. We also believe citizens need to be active participants in their government in order to maintain our constitutional liberties.

Committee rejects Littlefield’s annexation proposal

Committee rejects Littlefield’s annexation proposal
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 10:59 PM EST Updated: Dec 15, 2011 11:20 PM EST
By WRCB Staff
Source: http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/16336796/committee-rejectes-littlefields-annexation-proposal

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) — In a meeting that lasted just minutes, a 20 member committee rejected Mayor Ron Littlefield’s annexation proposal, Thursday Night.

Mayor Littlefield was not present for the very meeting he asked for.

It didn’t seem to matter, the committee, made up of mayors, school board members, and business leaders, made it clear Chattanooga is not ready to expand.

After County Mayor Jim Coppinger opened up the floor, silence.

Until School Board Chairman Mike Evatt motioned to deny Mayor Littlefield’s request to expand city limits to the Bradley County line.

“I was waiting to see if there was discussion, seemed like the floor was open up for discussion, I was ready to vote,” says Evatt.

The vote was 12 against, 5 for, with 2 abstaining.

Spokesperson for Mayor Littlefield’s office and committee member Richard Beeland was one of five to vote in favor of expansion.

He says growth due to the new VW plant needs to be planned for, controlled.

“It’s not unexpected that they came to this decision, it’s a shame that they didn’t allow more discussion on it and at least study the issue and then come up with an amendment,” says Beeland.

But because the meeting was requested by the city, the burden to prove a discussion is needed is on them.

Without bringing a detailed amendment to the table, only a letter of concerns written by mayor Littlefield.

The board was able to strike it down, no questions asked.

A victory for groups like Ooltewah Citizens for Responsible Growth who are against annexation all together.

“This was just an opening shot, but we are well prepared for the next step,” says John Harris, with Ooltewah Citizens for Responsible Growth.

“I think if anything annexation should be the right of the voters, voters should be given the right to vote on if they want to annexed or not,” says Evatt.

But some city leaders see it differently and say to expect another proposal in the future.

In the letter, written by mayor Littlefield, and referenced during the meeting, he talked about the need to combine police and fire protection, public works services, and housing and building codes.

Mike Evatt says the letter was a slap at the county, which he says is doing just fine.