Charleston officials, residents discuss possible annexation

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 10/20/19

A handful of Charleston area neighbors turned out for a recent Town Hall meeting at Charleston Elementary School, hosted by city officials.Just under a dozen local residents came to the meeting for a …

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Charleston officials, residents discuss possible annexation

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A handful of Charleston area neighbors turned out for a recent Town Hall meeting at Charleston Elementary School, hosted by city officials.

Just under a dozen local residents came to the meeting for a question-and-answer session on the city's tentative plan to annex their respective neighborhoods. A majority were from the Maple Crest subdivision, while a couple live on Mustang Drive.

The meeting was sponsored by Charleston City Commissioners Walter Goode, Frankie McCartney and Donna McDermott, while City Manager Caroline Geren and City Recorder Janet Newport were also in attendance.

Officials repeatedly emphasized the plan to possibly annex the two respective neighborhoods adjacent to the city limits is not about increased property taxes.

"Its about numbers and our population," said McCartney. 

The commissioners reported Charleston's current population of around 750 residents is a severe handicap to the municipality's ability to grow, expand and improve living conditions for all its citizens.

They pointed out there is grant money available for a number of proposed projects the city might pursue, but the grants are limited for cities with less than 1,000 residents.

There are 78 households in Maple Crest and on Mustang Drive, and if they were to come into the city, Charleston would have around 1,000 residents.

There are some other surrounding areas where residents could be annexed, especially if they had an interest. These areas are also in the city's 20-Year Growth Plan, a requirement for annexation.

These areas include some property right around the two targeted subdivisions, along Lauderdale Memorial Highway to Walker Valley Road, to Shaeffy Lane, to  Dry Valley Road, and the Hiwassee Lane area.

The purpose of the Town Hall meeting was to discuss advantages, and concerns, for residents who might come into the city.

McCartney handled much of the presentation, providing information he had compiled on city residency.

He said the out-of-city residents will realize around $200 in annual savings by being in the city, this savings coming from city garbage pick-up, and the elimination of their fire tax.

According to his numbers, the owner of a $50,000 home is paying approximately $299 each year for fire tax and garbage disposal. Their city property tax would be $61.45, realizing a savings of $237.55.

The owner of a $300,000 home is expending approximately $574 in fire tax and garbage pick-up annually, according to McCartney. Their $368.70 city property tax would generate approximately $205.30 in savings.

In addition, the city would provide regular patrols into the subdivisions by Charleston Police Department vehicles. New residents would also receive street maintenance, and other services and activities the city has to offer.

McCartney also pointed out that if residents are dissatisfied with the job the current commissioners are doing, they can run for elected office.

There was considerable discussion back and forth Tuesday evening.  The commissioners used information from questionnaires mailed out to residents in the two subdivisions.

Of 78 questionnaires mailed out, 11 were returned to the city. There was an even split in responses, with four favoring annexation, four opposed, and three unsure. Most of those responses were represented in Tuesday's attendance.

Among the items discussed were road and street issues, especially large truck traffic in the city; the Police Department; the control of dogs, and other animals in the city; the fact that Charleston has one of the lowest tax rates in the state; senior tax relief; the possibility of future tax increases; the lack of an adequate warning system for industrial emergencies; regular air quality checks; community litter; the possibility of adding another police officer; gaps in police hours; and the city's Hoyt Berry Park.

Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson, a resident of Maple Crest subdivision, joined another resident in asking the commissioners about the possibility of getting sewer into the community.

Lawson had mentioned this when he arrived at the meeting, saying this is a major concern throughout the county.

Lawson also said he attended Tuesday's meeting, "To see what they (the commissioners) had to say."

Goode,  and the other commissioners, informed those in attendance that they are working with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to see how best to go about annexation. The best option is to place the issue on the 2020 election ballot.

Non-city residents can also petition to be taken into the city.

"This (annexation option) is about growth and trying to make Charleston the best city it can be," said Goode. "I hope someone in these two neighborhoods is interested in replacing me, and working for the betterment of Charleston."

 


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