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Johnson City Commission to consider annexation, rezoning

COREY SHOUN • Jan 31, 2007 at 11:03 AM

JOHNSON CITY - The Johnson City Commission is poised to consider two items tonight which, if approved, would bring two new Walgreens pharmacies to town.

What is know as the SunTrust annexation, on Bobby Hicks Highway in Gray, will be considered on third and final reading.

Johnson City Regional Planning Commission member David Lefemine, whose panel approved the measure in December, said the commission must act now if the city is to reap any benefits from sales tax collections.

"If we're going to pick up the sales tax on this, we need to do it before they open for business," Lefemine said.

Planning Director Jim Donnelly said the city's policy in recent years, especially in the Gray area, has been to leave existing businesses out of annexation plans but to jump on opportunities to annex new commercial developments.

"If we don't annex before the doors are open, we basically can't collect property taxes on businesses for 15 years," Donnelly said. "Our policy has been to leave the existing businesses alone and to take in the new ones when they come around."

Donnelly said most commercial developers, including in this case, are not opposed to annexation.

"They generally want the police, fire and garbage service and the reduced rates on water and sewer," Donnelly said. "We've got a fire station right down the road from there."

The pharmacy would be located on the old SunTrust Bank property, across from Dairy Queen and near the recently built Taco Bell.

The commission also is slated to address on second reading, with public hearing, a rezoning item that concerns a new development featuring a Walgreens pharmacy and a bank on North Roan Street in the Boones Creek area.

A rezoning there would basically be an extension of the B-1 (business zone) that currently exists at the corner of North Roan and Carroll Creek Road.

The proposal shows a 14,000-square-foot freestanding pharmacy and a 6,000-square-foot freestanding bank. Long range planning coordinator Steve Nielson said the B-1 designation would provide "a good transition" for the area as opposed to more liberal zoning designations that would allow more types of uses.

Some neighborhood residents are concerned continued commercial development will only serve to increase the already heavy flow of traffic through the area on a daily basis.

Johnson City currently has three operating Walgreens - at the corner of University Parkway and South Roan Street, at the corner of North Roan Street and Browns Mill Road/Princeton Road, and at the corner of U.S. Highway 11-E and Allison Road in Piney Flats.

The panel also will discuss setting new rates for play at city golf courses and the possibility of a joint venture with East Tennessee State University for new or renovated football facilities.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the commission chambers at City Hall (Municipal and Safety Building), 601 E. Main St. The meeting will be preceded by a 5 p.m. workshop concerning new Seniors Center facilities.

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