Kingsport alderman wants comprehensive annexation plan

Matthew Lane • Feb 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Alderman Pat Shull would like to see the city of Kingsport develop a “360 degree” comprehensive annexation plan for its entire urban growth boundary — all 55 square miles — in order to get a better grasp on annexation.

Shull has raised this concern to his fellow Board of Mayor and Aldermen members for several months. Most recently he voted against the Chase Meadows annexation because the city has yet to create a 360-degree annexation plan.

Kingsport’s urban growth boundary is approximately 55 square miles and, by state law, is the territory in Sullivan County where the city is allowed to annex.

Prior to 2005, the city’s annexation goal was to annex more developable land and to reach a population of 50,000 by 2010. About two years ago, the city changed its view on annexation. A local development group requested annexation of 161 acres in the Rock Springs community to be developed into a new 300-home subdivision called The Edinburgh.

Kingsport saw the corridor leading up to the development as an obvious location for future annexations, thus city planners crafted a five-year plan for the Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens communities. Over the past two years, the city has been working from that plan and working to annex nearly 1,000 acres in the Rock Springs community.

The Rock Springs annexation plan runs from 2006 to 2011 with certain areas slated for annexation within certain years. The BMA’s unofficial policy regarding annexation is to follow the Rock Springs plan to 2011 and consider other annexations by request.

The Rock Springs plan includes cost estimates for city services (water, sewer, police and fire protection and street maintenance), maps of the area, legal descriptions, and a plan of services tailored for a particular area.

Shull said he would like to see a comprehensive plan, much like the Rock Springs one, of Kingsport’s entire urban growth boundary.

“In a perfect world, you would be able to point to any one area in the urban growth boundary, and you could say we think we’re going to annex you in 2015 or whatever,” Shull said. “It’s easier in my mind to flex off of an existing plan than to just jump around with no plan.”

Shull is a retired Army colonel who was the chief logistics war planner for the 8th Army in Korea. Other than the Rock Springs area, Shull said he does not think there is any real analytical underpinning that guides the city toward a decision of when to annex.

“I’d like to (annex) in a more methodical, systematic, comprehensive manner than the way we do it. Now, we approach things as they come up,” Shull said. “If we had a timetable for these things, it would actually work better with the county.”

City planners worked for about a year on the information associated with the 2006 and 2007 Rock Springs annexations — nearly 1,000 acres. The number of acres in Kingsport’s urban growth boundary is approximately 35,200 acres.

“I realize it takes these guys a little bit of time to figure this out, but I think that they’re smart enough and experienced enough in other departments that they can give projections of how much it would cost and what are the demographics. All of this information would be useful to know and we could plan this out,” Shull said. “If there’s a good reason why (the planners) can’t do it, nobody’s told me that. I’m willing to give planners a reasonable amount of time.”

The other members of the BMA have not publicly expressed an interest in Shull’s suggestion for a 360-degree annexation plan. The BMA has scheduled a retreat later this month, and according to city officials, annexation will be on the agenda.

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