City-county agreement spurs debate on future of infrastructure

Non-contiguous annexation talked

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 11/7/19

A request related to annexation led to discussion about future infrastructure concerns during Monday night’s Bradley County Commission voting session.

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City-county agreement spurs debate on future of infrastructure

Non-contiguous annexation talked

Posted

A request related to annexation led to discussion about future infrastructure concerns during Monday night’s Bradley County Commission voting session.

Commissioners discussed a resolution authorizing Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis to enter into an annexation interlocal agreement between the city of Cleveland and Bradley County regarding the non-contiguous annexation of the property currently owned by Deborah Crittenden, off Hensley Road N.W., which is off Freewill Road.

Davis noted the city can annex property that adjoins the city limits, but for non-contiguous parcels the city has to seek an interlocal agreement with the county in order to annex it.

According to the city of Cleveland’s plan of services document, the property is approximately 27 acres, with plans to build 112 houses.

Commissioner Howard Thompson voiced concerns during last week’s work session about the annexation request, and reiterated them during the continued discussion.

“How far did we skip?” Thompson asked, questioning how many properties lay between the city limits and the proposed annexation.

Davis said he thinks there are three parcels separating the requested property from the city limits.

“Where’s the end of this?” Thompson said, questioning if the next annexation request was 10 properties away from the city limits.

Davis said the county commission can turn down any non-contiguous property annexation request. He also encouraged commissioners to “keep on top of the roads” because the county is responsible for roads unless they are specifically included as the city’s responsibility in an interlocal agreement. Davis noted they should also be aware of which government entity is responsible for fire protection for these types of annexation requests.

Vice Chairman Thomas Crye said they also need to look at how schools can be impacted by developments, noting children living in those 112 proposed houses may live in the city, but go to county schools.

Commissioner Charlotte Peak said, “I am for private property rights” in her support of the interlocal agreement. She added the preliminary plat for the proposed development shows the road going into the development will be maintained by the city

“This is one of the most simplest ones we’ve come across,” Peak said of the non-contiguous annexation requests and interlocal agreements. She added in her opinion, there should be no confusion with this annexation request.

Peak said the county’s tax dollars will increase with this annexation and development.

Max Phillips, with Crye-Leike Real Estate Services, was present at the meeting to represent the property owner. He anticipates it could be four years before the proposed development will begin to materialize.

Commissioner Louie Alford said the plan of services prepared by the city of Cleveland estimates it will cost about $1.2 million to get sanitary sewer to the property, which “is not in a drainage area currently served by gravity collection sewers,” the plan of services stated. Alford asked who will be paying for the sewer service.

Phillips apologized, and said he is not prepared to discuss that information, adding he is the real estate agent for the property owner.

Alford added the plan of services also addresses potential revenue from the property, specifically a paragraph that stated the property currently has one single-family residential dwelling “with a total assessed value of $496,300.”

Phillips said that information is incorrect, and there is no house with that value on the property.

“I can’t vote on something that’s not right … to start with,” Alford said

Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg said that information is not in the resolution for the interlocal agreement, but in the city’s plan of services.

Chairman Johnny Mull asked, if the commissioners approve the resolution, if it would include the plan of services. Freiberg said it would.

Alford also questioned the potential impact on schools with the addition of 112 houses. The plan of services estimates the neighborhood would have approximately 45 school-age children at a cost to the city of $43,946.55.

Alford said the proposed development is closer to Bradley County’s Prospect Elementary School than to Cleveland City Schools’ Candy's Creek Cherokee Elementary School. He voiced concern that rather than sending their children to the city school, the development’s residents would send an “excessive amount of students” to Prospect, creating the need for more classrooms.

“Be prepared to raise taxes again and build more school property at Prospect,” Alford said.

Alford also commented about “outside developers” coming into Bradley County to build homes, asking where students who live in those developments will go to school. He added he hopes his fellow commissioners and the Bradley County Board of Education are listening to this discussion.

“We need to take a hard look,” Alford said, making a substitute motion that the interlocal agreement be sent to the Building and Land Committee for discussion. “I can’t see it’s the easiest thing we’ve ever voted on.

“I think we really need to take a good hard look at this whole scenario …,” Alford said.

Commissioner Bill Winters asked if there is a timeline for the development.

Phillips said the real estate contract for the property expires on Dec. 5.

After more discussion, the substitute motion failed 8-5. Commissioner Bobby Goins was absent from the meeting.

Peak then made a substitute motion to ask the city’s planning department to “clean up” the plan of services on the revenue portion and remove the mention of the $496,300 home, and approve the interlocal agreement contingent on the city agreeing to do that.

Commissioner Dennis Epperson said in the future Bradley County will see a lot more non-contiguous annexation requests.

“It’s not feasible to develop without sewer,” he said, adding they may need to look closely at future developments because of the concerns mentioned.

Alford reiterated that “outside developers” are not looking at the impact on the community related to schools and roads.

“Nobody’s considering that part,” he said, anticipating there will be a future need to raise taxes to build schools to take in students living in the city.

Commissioner Erica Davis agreed they need to look at the impact on the school system from development, but they also need to remember the state money assigned to every student in Bradley County follows that student to the school system they attend. She added that amount is about $7,000 to $8,000 per student.

Winters said a few years ago the Bradley County School Board developed a five-year plan; he said he thinks the county commission needs to look at it, along with the city and county school boards.

Ultimately, commissioners voted 11-2 on the substitute motion to ask the city of Cleveland to correct the plan of services, with approval of the interlocal agreement contingent on that correction.

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