Pieces of land adding up to more than 450 acres of county property were included in the proposed annexations.
The issue at hand was how bills passed by both Tennessee House and Senate members this month would affect plans to annex. Amendment No. 13 on both House Bill 475 and Senate Bill 279 placed “a moratorium against any municipality extending its corporate limits by means of annexation” until May 1, 2014.
Since before the bills, Cleveland has been subject to the ruling of Public Chapter 1101, or the Growth Policy Act. The act, passed in 1998, requires local governments to work together with the intent of goals like reducing urban sprawl and making sure annexation is beneficial for all involved.
The Tennessee House and Senate bills sparked a discussion in which City Council members chose to put off most of the annexations set to be approved by them.
“We operate under Public Chapter 1101, and now we have a moratorium on Public Chapter 1101,” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said.
Council members discussed back and forth whether they thought there was a chance of Gov. Bill Haslam vetoing the bills and ultimately decided they needed to know the outcome before they proceeded.
“We would have to start the process all over again,” Rowland said, noting that a veto from the governor could impact how the Council votes on annexation.
Rowland said Cleveland and Bradley County were “unique” in that both areas share sales tax revenue, minimizing some of the considerations other cities have to make when considering annexation.
The state moratorium offers exceptions to certain annexations, and one instance of annexation would later be approved at a public City Council hearing later in the day Tuesday.
Up for annexation were 15.5 acres along Anatole Point, which included the Anatole Subdivision; 11.8 acres in the Old Freewill Road area, which included the Silver Springs Subdivision; 27.8 acres in the area of the proposed state veterans home off Westland Drive; 11.4 acres including the Maple Glen Subdivision and the area north of Country Club Drive S.W. and east of Nicholson Drive S.W.; 327 acres along Mason, Johnston School and Brymer Creek Roads north of current city limits; 14.1 acres on Autumn Drive N.E. and Summer Breeze Circle; and 48.8 acres along Old Chattanooga Pike.
The 11.8 acres in the Old Freewill Road area would later be approved for annexation after public hearings regarding the area.
The Council also discussed a resolution by the Bradley County Planning Commission to request that the city “honor all preliminary and final plats approved by Bradley County Inspections Office for all developments in proposed annexation areas approved by the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission” on March 26.
“The bottom line is that we are in agreement that we will compromise on these that go through the approval process with them,” City Manager Janice Casteel said.
She said the only request the city has made in regards to developments proposed to be annexed is that one extra inch of base stone be added to road beds because of the heavy trucks used by the city when providing services like garbage pickup.
Casteel reminded everyone present that county properties would still need to be annexed into the city before they could be added to the city sewer service.
Developer Dennis Epperson, a major stakeholder in the 11.8 acres in the area of Old Freewill Road, said he was in favor of the annexation so that the Silver Springs Subdivision could receive such city services.