Controlling how people see your town when they first enter it can be beneficial, but it can also cost money.
That is the motivation behind Cleveland City Council’s move to study the costs of annexing APD-40.
The highway was formed as part of the Appalachian Development Highway System during the time interstates were being built and none of them were going through the more rural areas of the country.
Now designated as the “Veterans Memorial Highway,” the road is also considered as the Cleveland Bypass and directly connects to Interstate 75 where traffic can easily exit to enter the Cleveland city limits.
The highway serves as a gateway to popular tourist attractions, including Cherokee National Forest and the Ocoee River rafting and recreation area.
Councilman George Poe proposed the idea of having the city administration come back to the Council with information as to whether it would be financially feasible to proceed with annexing the area in order to have more control over its upkeep.
The issue was first brought up during a recent meeting of the city planning commission and Poe brought it back to the Council table.
“Back when we were having mowing problems and couldn’t get it cleaned up, where those problems existed were actually in the county. That is the entrance to our city on APD-40,” Poe said. “Someone smarter than I am suggested at the commission the possibility of annexing APD-40.”
He said his response to the idea was it would probably not be affordable for the city to take on that responsibility.
“It was then suggested to annex the right of way starting close to 20th Street and going around,” Poe said. “I agreed it would really look good.”
Poe added the area where it is lit by streetlights needs to be kept clean and mowed.
“The big sign there when you go under the bridge is ‘Welcome to Cleveland. The Best Place in the World to Live,’” Poe said.
He said he was hoping to get some options “if we can afford it.”
“If it’s something we can do and can afford, it would really make the city look good,” Poe said.
Mayor Tom Rowland suggested there were some roads that branch off of APD-40 that could use signs identifying the roads by name instead of state route numbers.
“A lot of folks aren’t familiar with the state highway numbers,” Rowland said. “We could take those actions if they are in the city.”
A report on the potential annexation could be presented as early as the Council’s planning meeting Jan. 13 beginning at 8 a.m. in the council chambers.