By AUTUMN HUGHES
The Bradley County Commission is pushing back against the City of Cleveland for what many commissioners perceive as a high-handed approach in the City’s plans to annex two properties.
The Bradley County Commission is pushing back against the city of Cleveland for what many commissioners perceive as a high-handed approach in the city’s plans to annex two properties.
Those properties are a parcel referred to as the Hawkins Property on Old Chattanooga Pike that is proposed for a single family residential subdivision that would accommodate approximately 50 homes, and a parcel referred to as the Williams Property on APD 40 that is proposed for a gasoline sales facility “with the future use of the remainder of the property being determined.”
According to the separate letters sent to Bradley County's Director of Planning & Inspections Bently Thomas by Cleveland Senior Planner Corey Divel, both annexations were requested and both parcels are located within the Urban Growth Boundary but are not contiguous to Cleveland’s existing municipal boundary.
“Pursuant to TCA 6-51-104 (d) the City of Cleveland must enter into an interlocal agreement with Bradley County to provide for services for any interceding properties,” the letters stated.
For the Hawkins Property, the letter states a small section of Old Chattanooga Pike separates the property from the existing municipal boundaries.
For the Williams Property, the letter states the property is bounded on the north by “a State right-of-way, APD 40, and on the east by Holloway Road. These right-of-ways separate the subject property from the existing municipal boundaries.”
According to the letters, the city is proposing to provide services for any development located within the boundaries of the subject properties.
“We hold the opinion that the agreement be established such that Bradley County would continue to service any county right-of-way or other properties not located within the boundary described for annexation,” the letters stated.
The letters go on to ask for confirmation by Friday, Feb. 9, “that you agree that no agreement is necessary for either party to provide any services they would not normally provide to any intervening properties. If we do not receive written confirmation we will make the assumption that no agreement is necessary and proceed with the annexation.”
Jeff Yarber, the Bradley County Commission’s Road Committee chairman, said the city wants to annex the properties but not the roads that separate those properties from the city’s municipal boundary. He said he believes if the county allows this, it will lead to the city continuing to seek annexation of property not touching its municipal boundary.
Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said she reads the letter to state there must be a plan of services between the city and county.
County Commissioner Charlotte Peak said understands there is a proposed bill in the Tennessee General Assembly to allow non-contiguous property holders to request annexation to a city. Peak added she understands that viewpoint because sewer service is not offered in the county.
“We have people out there right now who need sewer (service),” Peak said.
Peak added that her opinion is if the city will run sewer lines and offer service and the county maintains the roads, she sees no problem with that. She added that some areas of the county “are never going to grow” until sewer service is offered.
However, other commissioners voiced their opposition to that proposal.
Commissioner Howard Thompson said when the 20-year growth plan was being established, the city had the opportunity to annex property.
“They are holding us hostage because of the sewer,” Thompson said, adding that the city won’t extend sewer service until a property is annexed. “I’m not for giving them nothing.”
Yarber said he appreciates the different perspectives but if the county agrees to the annexations and to continue maintaining the roads, it can’t be undone.
“I would like to see the city work with us some before we offer up these kind of rights,” Yarber said. “I have no problem sitting down and talking with the city.”
Commissioner Milan Blake asked Freiberg what, exactly, the city is asking for. Freiberg said she believes the purpose of the letter “is to put us on notice for what they’re asking us to do.”
Blake said by the city asking, it implies an agreement between the city and county is needed. Freiberg said she believes all parties agree an agreement needs to be in place, but the question is whether it needs to be an interlocal agreement. She added each parcel put forth like this for annexation needs to be looked at individually.
Commissioner Thom Crye said he believes the city “wants their cake and eat it too.”
“If they want it … they need to take the whole basket,” Crye said.
Commissioner Dan Rawls said he believes it is not a simple matter of maintaining the roads, but of the increased traffic load that will be put on the roads following development. He said if the city wants to annex the property, it can also take responsibility for the roads.
Rawls said he doesn’t like how the information was presented “as somewhat of an ultimatum,” adding it is not the correct way to enter into negotiations.
Commissioner Mark Hall suggested the issue be tabled for future discussion. However, Commission Chairman Louie Alford pointed out the letter asks for an immediate response or the city will proceed.
After more discussion, commissioners voted on a motion to reject the city’s proposals, but expressed a willingness to meet and discuss the issue. The measure passed 9-4, with commissioners Alford, Mull, Yarber, Rawls, Baker, Mike Hughes, Bill Winters, Mark Hall and Bobby Goins voting in favor and Commissioners Peak, Robert Rominger, Terry Caywood and Crye voting against it. Thompson passed on the vote.
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