Nearly two dozen people attended the Collegedale commission meeting Monday night, many in opposition to annexations that were on the agenda. Before the voting, public hearings on six areas being annexed were held. Citizens were allowed to comment during this time.
Dissent expressed about the city taking in land located on South McDonald Road was the first to be heard. This property includes a family farm of around 30 acres, two dwellings and land in a conservation easement. “Collegedale has a culture of ‘more’”, said the owner of the farm.
They want more property, power, control and taxes, he said. By taking in his land, he said he was losing the freedoms of doing what he wishes with his property since he will have to conform to the city’s ordinances. He told the commissioners that being in the city limits will cause his property taxes to be about $4,000 but that Collegedale would not provide anything he wanted or needed.
The same sentiment was repeated by a landowner on Watkins Street. “The services you can provide, I already have,” he said. "We do our own trash service and rely on Hamilton County for police." He told commissioners the property has been governed by the county for over 100 years and that is how he would like it to stay. “Its 100 years of black heritage,” said this speaker.
Six other property owners expressed more resistance concerning parcels located in the vicinity of the intersection of Standifer Gap Road and Camp Road. One man posed questions about his property and the effect annexation would have on himself and other landowners. “What would be the benefit to Collegedale to annex my property and that adjacent to it?” he asked. Mayor John Turner responded that one reason is to remove doubt about the areas of responsibility for EMS and first responders. Some of the areas under consideration are surrounded by the city of Collegedale and this will fill in the “doughnut holes,” he said.
The question of Collegedale’s primary objective in annexing property was also put to the mayor. To this, he answered that the city looks at property that has commercial appeal. He said if development starts before property is in the city limits, the city would forfeit sales taxes until annexation took place, yet would still have to provide services. It is important to annex these areas to protect the city’s revenue stream, he added.
“What are benefits to the homeowner?” “How does it impact us?” came next. The mayor responded that Collegedale could provide some services that are not now available to these properties. The county has limited resources for services they provide, and if help is needed, the city fills the void but is not reimbursed for it. “In conclusion, there are not any dollar benefits but more regulations to my property” countered this speaker. He had figured the cost of services he currently pays for and told the mayor that it will cost more for him to be in the city, and that he would prefer to remain within the county. The same opinion was given by all the other people that came to dispute having their property annexed.
Commissioner Larry Hanson spoke to the crowd saying he sympathized with them and wished they were all happy about becoming part of Collegedale. He recommended to the commission that public hearings where citizens are allowed to speak be held prior to the night of a vote, saying he would like to have more time to process what he had heard at the meeting.
The annexation of all six areas that are in the urban growth boundaries of Collegedale were approved by the commissioners. When annexation takes place, zoning is assigned for the best use for the property. Four of the newly acquired areas were given Agricultural District zoning, one given Corporate District zoning and another split between C-2 commercial and R-2 low density residential. A plan of services is also adopted at the time of annexation.
The owners were told that property taxes paid to Collegedale would not begin before 2014, and that their mailing addresses would not change. City services will be provided beginning 30 days from today. The benefits that come with being a part of the city include trash pickup, yard debris the size of a pickup truck will be removed once a month, and anything else, including junk cars will be taken away once monthly. The city will also cut up fallen trees and give away free mulch made from them. The public library is free for all residents of Collegedale, as is use of the Imagination Station playground, the greenway and fireworks displays, said the mayor.
In new business, a resolution was approved to provide matching funds for a 80/20 TDOT grant In order to apply for the grant, Collegedale is required to commit to being responsible for 20 percent of the cost for the road improvements. Work on several intersections, the loop road around Southern Adventist University and the addition of several round-abouts will be done if the grant is awarded. The university plans on reimbursing the city for the loop road. Vice Mayor Tim Johnson suggested drawing up a contract with the school to provide a written guarantee for the reimbursement. This was unanimously approved by the other commissioners.
A vote of approval was also given to a plan that updates rules and regulations to put Collegedale in good standing with OSHA. Approval to issue a note not to exceed $277,740 for leased police vehicles was also given. The city manager’s financial report showed that the city was right on track. At two-thirds of the way through the fiscal year, 67 percent of revenue has been received and 65 percent of expenditures have been made.