The BMA failed to approve the annexation of 24 acres along Bell Ridge Road and McKenzie Drive during its regular meeting Tuesday night. Alderman Larry Munsey made the motion to accept the resolution. However, the motion failed for a lack of a second.
Alderman Ken Marsh said this was the first time in nine years something like this had happened.
The history behind the annexation began in June when the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission recommended the annexation of 72 acres of land and 45 residents in the Carters Valley community. The annexation area included 2,650 feet of Bell Ridge Road and 120 feet of McKenzie Drive, no commercial property and one agricultural parcel.
About half of the residents petitioned to come into the city, while the other half complained about the annexation and expressed a desire to be left out of the proposed area.
The BMA heard from some of the residents in August and agreed to send a revised annexation area back to the Planning Commission. The area went from one large area to two smaller, separate areas connected by a road — 24 acres instead of 72, 23 residents instead of 45, and eight homes instead of 15.
However, planning commissioners voted in September to stick with their original recommendation.
While a majority of the BMA appeared to support the annexation on Monday, when the time came to vote on Tuesday, the annexation failed to garner much support.
Vice Mayor Ben Mallicote argued against the annexation on Monday, saying it was of no great strategic value to the city. Alderman Pat Shull also voiced opposition on Monday and questioned the city’s policy regarding requested annexations.
Marsh argued for the annexation on Monday, pointing out the city already provides fire protection for the area and students are allowed to go to city schools up through the fifth grade tuition free. Marsh, who serves on the Planning Commission, said he supported the commission’s recommendation both times it was sent to the BMA.
“I would support (the annexation) coming back in its entirety, but the chances of it happening are not very good,” Marsh said. “The Planning Commission has no basis of bringing it up again. We brought it up twice. Why beat a dead horse?”
According to city planners, the one-time cost associated with the annexation is $369,280 — $171,000 for water line upgrades, $196,000 for sewer line installation and $2,280 for street lighting. City Planner Ken Weems said if the city were to have included the left-out portion in Tuesday’s annexation proposal, the costs would have risen by around $38,000.
Alderman Valerie Joh said she could have supported the annexation request if it included the whole area and not the modified version.
“I’m all for taking in people who want to come into the city if it’s affordable and logical. This hit me on the affordability and on the logical, for it changed our boundary in such a strange way,” Joh said. “I feel if we could take in the whole amount, for only $38,000 more, I would vote for that without reservation.”
Mayor Dennis Phillips said he thinks the annexation failed because it got off to a bad start when the original request was changed by the city’s planning department.
City planners included property not originally requested because it made a logical boundary with the city limits and the property requested, something Phillips admits has been done numerous times in the past.
“For some reason this one got off to a bad start, and I don’t think that we fully understood it,” Phillips said. “I am supportive of doing annexation by request when reasonably affordable. I think this section was as reasonably affordable as most residential annexations we do. I could support it, and if it came to a vote I would have voted to annex.”