Rock Springs annexations on back burner, but still simmering

Matthew Lane • Mar 17, 2007 at 1:27 AM

KINGSPORT - The annexation of five areas in the Rock Springs community has not fallen by the wayside, City Manager John Campbell said this week, adding the areas would likely be brought before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the coming weeks.

One of the top issues on the BMA's list last year was annexation, with the desire being to bring more developable land into the city limits. City leaders held numerous discussions on the topic and at least one major joint session with school officials about annexation.

When Danny and Darin Karst came forth last year with a proposal to develop 161 acres of land in the Rock Springs community into a 300-plus home development, BMA members were jubilant about the development and pushed for city planners to look at other potential properties in that area for annexation.

What resulted was a five-year annexation plan that first looked at five areas leading up to the Karst development - The Edinburgh. The second year of the plan - 2007 - had three additional areas slated for annexation by the city.

However, residents of Area 1 filed suit against the city soon after their area was approved by the BMA, with one claim being the city failed to advertise the annexation in three locations. Since then the city's planning department has "redone" Area 1.

Now, all five areas have been through the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission, but none has been brought before the BMA for approval. City planners say they have not received the word to bring these areas before the BMA.

Campbell said annexation has not fallen by the wayside, that Kingsport has simply had other topics to work on, including the capital improvement plan and the proposed higher education center.

"I'm very comfortable with the Rock Springs annexation plan. I think it's a plan that seemingly the board has a consensus support of," Campbell said. "I would say they would come back at the next meeting or the following meeting."

The BMA has approved $2.1 million in sewer work and water upgrades to The Edinburgh property. Areas 1 through 5 consist of approximately 443 acres with 283 acres being deemed developable land. Sewer and water costs for the five areas are estimated to be $1.19 million and $696,725, respectively, and would tie into the utilities being run to The Edinburgh.

Areas 6 through 8 consist of approximately 526 acres with sewer and water costs estimated to be $6.5 million.

All eight areas - once annexed - would have an effective date of Jan. 1, 2008.

Campbell said he does not see any reason not to do Areas 6 to 8 later this year.

Mayor Dennis Phillips said he would not push for the city to bring Areas 1 to 5 before the BMA this year.

"I'm not really hung up on all of them coming forth this year. I think they need to come forth as the planning department feels comfortable they've done the necessary work and we have the correct information," Phillips said. "I'm not sure I'm going to push bringing them forward. If they feel comfortable, I have no problem."

Phillips said his main concern is Kingsport needs to address the school situation regarding annexed students. Last year the Sullivan County Board of Education voted to allow annexed students to remain in their current school. Phillips said he would like to see the agreement formalized in writing with the city.

"I have not and will not change my stance that I don't want students going to the junior prom at one school and senior prom at another," Phillips said. "I feel confident we can work out the school situation with the county school board in order to provide a quality education to those students without disrupting their lives."

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