Matthew Lane • Sep 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — City Manager John Campbell has given city planners the go-ahead to move forward with annexations in the Rock Springs community, and according to one city planner, the annexations will begin next month and continue through April 2008.

Kingsport planners have been working for more than 18 months on annexing eight areas of land, nearly 1,000 acres, in the Rock Springs community — areas that lead up to a 330-unit housing development off Rock Springs Road called “The Edinburgh.” The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved three annexations earlier this year — Area 2 and portions of Areas 3 and 5.

Residents from each of these three areas have filed lawsuits in Sullivan County Chancery Court challenging these annexations. In July, the city held a public meeting in the Rock Springs community to meet with residents and answer any questions they had about the annexations.

Campbell has said the city intends to move forward with the remaining annexations, regardless of the lawsuits.

City Planner Forrest Koder said he has been given the go-ahead by Campbell to move forward with the remaining seven annexations.

Koder said he plans to start with taking Area 1 to the BMA on Oct. 2 and Area 6 to the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission on Oct. 18.

“Each month afterward I’ll be taking another one to the board and Planning Commission until they are done,” Koder said, noting that would take him through April 2008.

Originally all eight annexations were to occur before the end of the year, but with the city’s new elementary school in the Rock Springs community being pushed back to an August 2009 open date, Koder said there was no rush to annex Areas 6, 7 and 8.

The eight areas proposed to be annexed include approximately 969 acres and at least 585 people. The cost to provide water and sewer to these areas is estimated to be $2.33 million and $6 million, respectively.

The city’s long-range annexation plan in the Rock Springs community is still in effect and carries through 2011, Koder said. The plan includes nearly 3,100 acres and approximately 2,000 residents in the Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens communities.

Kingsport has notified the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that blasting may be needed to install a sewer line to The Edinburgh development. A public hearing on this request is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Room 239 at the Kingsport Renaissance Center.

At the same time as the TDEC hearing, representatives from Citizens for Home Rule plan to hold an information open house in Room 230 of the Renaissance Center. CHR is a Knoxville-based advocacy group assisting residents in the Rock Springs community in filing lawsuits against the city to fight annexation.

John Emison, president of CHR, has sent out more than 350 letters to Rock Springs residents urging them to attend both meetings.

“Forced annexation is ‘Taxation Without Representation,’ which is un-American,” Emison wrote in a press release announcing the meeting. “If you want to fight annexation, you need to attend and find out what your legal rights are because the city won’t tell you.”

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