Collegedale Commissioners Approve Some Annexations On 1st Reading, Balk At Others

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 - by Gail Perry

Facing citizen oppositiion and with concerns about the city's ability to service new areas, Collegedale Commissioners on Monday night approved on first reading only about half of a large number of tracts proposed for annexation.

The mass of proposed annexations on the agenda was met with reluctance from some commissioners. The city’s planning committee had recommended the addition of 256 parcels. All properties being considered are contiguous to the present corporate city limits of  Collegedale and are within the urban growth boundaries established for the city.

The annexations as proposed would consist of 588 acres and include 192 houses. The trepidation was expressed with votes of abstention or nay by Mayor John Turner, Vice Mayor Tim Johnson and Commissioner Katie Lamb on many of the ordinances.

Vice Mayor Johnson explained the concerns he had about stretching the police department to cover so much additional property, and said he wanted to make sure there is adequate staffing so that Collegedale does right by the people that are brought into the city as well as the existing residents.

Ted Rogers, city manager, interjected his belief that concerns about personnel were premature. He said, “We can stretch our resources as of today” to hire additional police. He also told the commissioners that a part-time public works employee has recently become full-time, which adds capacity to that department. For the upcoming budget, Police Chief Brian Hickman is planning to request three more officers, one to be added to each shift. Mr. Rogers repeatedly said that could be done immediately if he was directed to do so by the commissioners but that it would require a budget amendment.

If approved on second reading, the annexations would be effective at the end of May. The vice mayor noted that three recently hired police officers would not be on the street for seven months due to the academy and field training requirements. Mayor Turner stated that the city would not see any revenue from annexations approved now until May 2015 and said the commissioners had worked too hard to build up a reserve and are not willing to deplete it. Addressing Mr. Rogers, the mayor said, “You keep pushing it” but it is the commissioners that are elected to make decisions and be good stewards of the city. They are the ones to move the city forward and it is the job of the city manager to carry out decisions made by the commission, he said..

Commissioner Larry Hanson said he had conducted his own study of the ratio of police to citizens of Collegedale several years ago, and had determined it was three officers to every 1,000 residents, which is higher than the other cities in Hamilton County.  With the rapid growth of the area, he said that ratio is not exactly the same now; however, he suggested a closer look before adding personnel. Commissioner Debbie Baker said she would prefer to wait on hiring more police to make sure the decision is the right one. Vice Mayor Johnson requested substantiating data from the police chief before the commission agrees to increase the police force.  

Commissioner Lamb would like to pursue the new zoning designation of “historical district” to be established for Collegedale. Some areas under consideration for annexation in Ooltewah should be given this zoning, she said. She asked Kelly Martin, strategic planner for the city, if it would be possible to add the zoning category before approving the annexations. It was agreed that the James County Courthouse has a lot of history and should be protected. However, Ms. Lamb was told that zoning changes would require a lot of time but changes could be done at a later date. Mr. Martin suggested considering an “overlay” for buildings in this area versus the strict requirements that come with historical district zoning.

On first reading, 46 ordinances voted on at the Monday meeting resulted in approvals for 23 annexations and the accompanying ordinances to designate the best use zoning. Seven annexations were given R-2 status, seven given C-2 status, six were zoned AG, six other parcels were given the R-1 designation, and one was assigned to R-3 zoning.

Commissioner Hanson, speaking to the large crowd of concerned citizens, said, “I know you’re not here because you want to be in the city of Collegedale.” He told them that he would rather hear their concerns now instead of hearing them on the same night as the second vote on the annexations. A public hearing will be scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on April 22 before the next regular commission meeting where a second reading will occur on all the ordinances voted on Monday night.

Mr. Hanson also invited individuals to call or email him with their concerns and he met with them as a group after the meeting adjourned. The general consensus expressed by individuals at that time was their wish to remain under county government since annexation into Collegedale will increase taxes on their properties.

In the city manager’s report, Ted Rogers reported the bid for work on a park pavilion at the cost of $17,000. Approval to sign the contract was given to Mr. Rogers. A bid to buy additional garbage carts at $56.80 based on the purchase of 1,000 also received approval. 

gailaperry@comcast.net

 


Upcoming City Council Agendas

Here are the upcoming City Council agendas: I.    Call to Order. II.        Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Chairman Henderson). III.    Minute Approval.              IV.    Special Presentation. V.        Ordinances ... (click for more)

Dalton Police Arrest Antonio Cruz, 41, On Rape Charge

The Dalton Police Department arrested 41-year-old Antonio Cruz of 500 Barbara Ave. on Friday morning, at his residence on charges of rape, aggravated stalking and aggravated assault. Cruz was arrested at his residence shortly before 6 a.m. and the rape was reported earlier in the morning at a nearby apartment complex. The rape was reported to police at approximately 3 a.m. ... (click for more)

Walking Among Memories, The USS LST-325

I have walked among the head stones at Flanders Fields and have seen the entrenchment of soldiers with only bayonet tips sticking out of the earth. Later I traveled to Normandy where I stood on the sand and made scuff marks with my shoes on Omaha Beach and climbed the hill to the magnificent American Cemetery there. I again walked among the many, many tomb stones so neatly and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Troubling Jameis Winston

One of the greatest things about the American legal system is that each and every crime is judged on its own merits. Just because Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy were each arrested for domestic abuse earlier this week, each National Football League football hero will be given an independent hearing and trial, if need be, ... (click for more)

Hill, Wolfe Help Central Hand East Ridge First 6-AA Loss

On Tuesday, Central dropped its first District 6-AA volleyball match to Hixson. Two days later the Lady Purple Pounders did the same to East Ridge. With Rebekah Hill and Skyler Wolfe leading the rebound from Tuesday’s loss, Central swept East Ridge 3-0 and remained in the hunt for their second straight district championship. Set scores were 25-14, 25-16, 25-22. “The ... (click for more)

Lee Davis A Successful Runner Among Other Things

Lee Davis grew up in Philadelphia, went to college at Elizabethton College in Central Pennsylvania and graduated from law school at Boston University. He also became a pretty good runner during that time. Davis is a high-profile attorney in Chattanooga who does something physical every day.   He doesn’t train like he once did and he doesn’t even like to talk about ... (click for more)