Rock Springs annexations move forward

Matthew Lane • Oct 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — As expected, Kingsport planners are moving forward with bringing the remaining annexation areas in the Rock Springs community before city leaders.

On Thursday, the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission voted to recommend the annexation of Area 6 in the Rock Springs community to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Area 6 includes 51 parcels (single-family homes and farmland), around 60 residents and approximately 170 acres along Cox Hollow Road and Westfield Place.

Estimated water upgrade and sewer installation costs are $580,000 and $1.36 million, respectively.

Area 6 is just one of seven annexations expected to come before the BMA in the coming months and has been part of an overall annexation plan in the Rock Springs community for nearly two years.

The five-year plan originally called for eight areas of land in the Rock Springs community, nearly 1,000 acres, to be annexed by the end of the year. The areas in question lead up to a 330-unit housing development off Rock Springs Road called “The Edinburgh.”

The BMA approved the annexation of three of these areas earlier this year — Area 2 and portions of Areas 3 and 5 — but the city stalled on the remaining areas after residents from each filed lawsuits in Sullivan County Chancery Court challenging their annexation. The lawsuits are pending, with the city planning to file responses to each one.

In September, City Manager John Campbell gave city planners the go-ahead to move forward with the remaining seven annexations. City planners have said the plan is to bring one a month to the BMA through April 2008.

Earlier this week, the BMA voted on final reading to annex Area 1 in the Rock Springs community — 55 acres of land located roughly across from Fiddlers Way off Rock Springs Road.

As the plans stands now, Area 7 and 8 will go before the Planning Commission in November and December, respectively, while the remaining 47 acres of Area 3 will go before the BMA in November. The proposed order in which the BMA will receive the remaining area is as follows — Area 4 in December, Area 5 in January, Area 6 in February, Area 7 in March, and Area 8 in April.

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, city planners have 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 whole purpose of this, when the General Assembly established Public Chapter 1101, was for municipalities to engage in long-range planning, and that is exactly what we’ve done with these studies,” said city planner Forrest Koder. “We did studies all around the city prior to getting the land for the new school. The city looked at Sullivan Gardens, Rock Springs and Fall Creek.

“Rock Springs to the interstate was the logical choice for growth.”

Koder said The Edinburgh development helped spur annexation in the Rock Springs community, not John Adams Elementary School — the new 500-student elementary school being built by the city off Rock Springs Road.

The Edinburgh developers agreed to donate land at their development as a site for the new elementary school. This move came after the Planning Commission recommended the annexation of The Edinburgh property but before the BMA voted on it.

“The school did not spur annexation. The Edinburgh did, and only after we had done a study in Northwest Kingsport, Southwest Kingsport and Northeast Kingsport,” Koder said. “The topography in Rock Springs lends itself better to annexation than the other areas of the county in the urban growth boundary.”

Kingsport ruled out annexing large areas in Fall Creek after figures came back in February 2006 showing the cost of annexation would be about $91 million. In addition, Koder said Kingsport is hemmed in by the state line to the north and Hawkins County to the west. Colonial Heights is off limits until 2010 due to the moratorium, and city leaders have said they have no interest in going after Colonial Heights any time soon.

“We had three areas to study. We studied those three areas, and it just so happens the (Edinburgh) annexation coincided with the time we finished up our studies of all three areas,” Koder said.

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