Local builders oppose ‘fast-track’ annexation
by By DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
Mar 24, 2013 | 2180 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Ocoee Region Builders Association voted Friday evening to oppose what they believe is “fast-tracking annexation” proposed by the city of Cleveland.

A resolution passed by ORBA members stated there is an alarming “unintended consequence” of pending legislation in the General Assembly.

ORBA President Lake Mantooth said local builders support S.B. 270 by state Sen. Bo Watson and H.B. 475 in the House by state Rep. Mike Carter. The bills allow citizens and property owners to approve annexation by referendum rather than simply by city ordinance or by request of the landowner.

“While we believe this is a good bill, but we are hearing from local home builders’ associations from across the state that cities are fast-tracking annexation efforts in anticipation of the legislation’s passage,” he said.

The city of Cleveland posted a legal notice Friday in the Cleveland Daily Banner for a public hearing Tuesday during the regular meeting of the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission. All of the property is inside the city’s Urban Growth Boundary.

There has been discussion by city officials and staff about annexing northward along Mouse Creek Road toward Lauderdale Memorial Highway. However, the city cannot increase the land area contained within its boundaries by more than 25 percent during any 24 -month period.

Planning commissioners will consider plans of service, and annexation and zoning of 15.5 acres of land on the Anatole subdivision; 14.1 acres on Autumn Drive, Summer Breeze Circle North to 31st Street; 48.8 acres along Old Chattanooga Pike, which includes Ridgefield Court and Chestnut Oak Drive.

Also under consideration is the annexation of approximately 327 acres along Mason Road, Johnston School Road and Brymer Creek Road north to the existing city limits, which forms the southeast quadrant of Exit 20 and APD 40.

“Our grave concern is once hearings begin, land proposed for annexation will be grandfathered in if the bill passes,” Mantooth said.

“Developers purchase property know exactly where it is located, which is why it was purchased, now has a whole new set of concerns. This kind of decision impacts issues such as financial arrangements, lot sales and tax structure, just to name a few.

“I am sure there are other cities following this same tactic, which is of great concern. It is as if all cities were given the same advice as to how to get as much property annexed as possible before the legislative action,” he said.

Mantooth said there is a huge impact on the livelihood of developer and the trickle down affect on suppliers, banks and realtors. Developers also have no assurance their plats or plans would be accepted after annexation.

Currently, the Home Builders Association of Tennessee is proposing bill S. B. 915 by Sen. Frank Niceley and H.B. 964 in the House by Curry Todd. That legislation would allow development standards in effect on the date of application for building permits or preliminary plat or site plan approval to remain the standards for final approval of the development.

“Currently, developers are not protected from regulation changes, even after preliminary plat approval,” Mantooth said. “Tennessee statutes are silent which leaves court as a developer’s only option. After approval and during the development process, any changes to regulations can be devastating to project completion. Financing, continued construction, and improvements are jeopardized if regulation changes take place prior to completion of the project.”

The annexation would hurt a developer who purchased county property with the expectation of certain revenue on many levels.

“In the county we are able to sell property with Rural Development Loans. If annexed, developers will tend to sit on properties longer without options of Rural Development Loans. This will definitely affect the bottom line,” he said.

Mantooth said homeowners who do not want to be annexed should attend the planning commission meeting Tuesday evening at 6 p.m.