Residents file suit to stop Rock Springs annexation

Matthew Lane • Dec 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Another annexation; another lawsuit filed to stop it.

This seems to be the way things are going in the Rock Spring community.

For more than a year, Kingsport has been working to annex nearly 1,000 acres in the Rock Springs community — 10 areas that lead up to two major developments off Rock Springs Road: a 330-home neighborhood called “The Edinburgh” and the city’s new John Adams Elementary School.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved three annexations earlier this year — Area 2 and portions of Areas 3 and 5 — and in response, residents filed suit in Sullivan County Chancery Court to stop them.

The latest development occurred last month, when 11 residents of Area 1 filed suit against the city to prevent it from being annexed. The BMA approved the annexation of Area 1 on Oct 16. Residents have 30 days from the final vote by the BMA to file suit.

Knoxville attorney David Buuck filed all four lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiffs. Buuck is associated with Citizens for Home Rule, a not-for-profit advocacy organization located in Knoxville that assists residents in filing lawsuits to prevent annexations.

Those suing the city from Area 1 are Travis Tiller, John Hampton, Jo McDavid, Jack and Louise Jones, Bobby Joe and Brenda Wilson, David Carter, Ronnie Bledsoe, Randy McMillian, and Paul Russ Brooks.

The lawsuit claims the land owners never requested annexation and the ordinance passed to annex their property is an exercise of power not conferred by law.

Last month the BMA voted on final reading to approve the annexation of Area 3 — 47 acres along Rock Springs Road.

John Emison, president of CHR, said the organization does have residents in that area who are CHR members and that a lawsuit would be filed to stop the annexation.

“The amazing thing is, all of this is an illusion. This is the city’s illusion. They may go ahead and build that sewer line, but they’re not going to be building it in any area that’s inside the city of Kingsport until these suits are settled,” Emison said. “It could be years before this is settled. Which brings us back to whether or not any of this is being done for the wealth, health and benefit of anybody in that valley.

“That valley is not going to be in the city in the foreseeable future.”

Kingsport plans to install around 9,000 feet of sewer line down Rock Springs Road to the Edinburgh development.

Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said he anticipates work on this project to begin within the next 60 days and take about nine months to complete.

Last week, the BMA voted unanimously to approve the annexation of Area 4 — approximately 153 acres along Rock Springs Road. Twenty-seven people live in this area. According to planning department records, $572,500 worth of utility work will be done in this area — $170,500 for water line upgrades and $402,000 for sewer line installation.

Kingsport will receive around $21,228 in revenues from this area yearly and incur $19,247 in yearly expenses.

As the plans stands now, Area 8 will go before the Planning Commission in December. The BMA will receive the remaining areas as follows — Area 5 in January, Area 6 in February, Area 7 in March, and Area 8 in April.

The 10 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.

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