KINGSPORT - City Manager John Campbell said it makes sense for Kingsport to consider annexing Sullivan County property owners who live within 200 yards of the city limits and are currently receiving city services.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen held a daylong retreat on Monday to discuss a variety of issues facing the city, including annexation, the overall finances of the city, and various long-term improvement projects such as the renovation of the V.O. Dobbins center and the creation of a new aquatics center.
During a discussion on annexation, City Planner Forrest Koder gave a brief presentation on a recent directive from Campbell regarding future annexations — parcels located in Sullivan County on city water and sewer.
Koder said there are 4,123 parcels located in Sullivan County that are within 200 yards of the city limits. Of those parcels, 880 are on city water and sewer.
Some of these notable locations include the Sullivan Gardens parkway area, parcels near Willowbrook and Bailey Ranch and off Interstate 26,
“We should look at these areas, and ironically, many are in Rock Springs,” Koder said. “It gives you an idea of where to look at for potential annexations and do studies of.”
The Colonial Heights area was left out of the map showing the parcels, due to the annexation moratorium in place until 2010.
Campbell said he knew of many parcels on Kingsport’s borders that would be easy to annex with minimal cost to the city.
“It would make sense to look at those particular areas because I know from experience those particular areas will be minimal cost to the city. There are probably a lot of people in those areas who will be voluntary, and I would urge as much as possible for it to be voluntary,” Campbell said, adding he is not opposed to looking at city-initiated annexations of those parcels. “There might be some areas that are that way, and it would be a major decision.
“You’re bound to find some areas where there is greater interest than others, and you go where the greater interest is and make it as easy as possible.”
Alderman Pat Shull said Koder’s presentation was a “step in the right direction” but again raised the issue of Kingsport needing a “360 degree” annexation plan — basically, a detailed, cost-analysis plan for the city’s 55-square-mile urban growth boundary.
“I don’t see a reason why we can’t develop a 360-degree plan that goes in greater detail than this,” Shull said. “You can do it in a year, year and a half.”
Alderman Ken Marsh, who initially supported Shull’s idea, spoke against it during Monday’s retreat.
“When you originally came up with that, I said it was a good idea. Since then I’ve heard the planners say we’re going to pursue the Rock Springs plan through 2011,” Marsh said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to work on a comprehensive plan. We don’t know what will happen between now and 2011, and the people sitting here in 2009 ... their ideas could be completely different.”
Vice Mayor Ben Mallicote said Kingsport is not annexing for the sake of annexation. Rather, the city is annexing to obtain developable land.
“We had a very specific need that mandated we go out and do this because of the problem with our housing stock. For the foreseeable future we may well have addressed that need,” Mallicote said. “We may very well have all of the developable land we need. When the BMA in 2012 looks at the next batch of annexations, they may not need to annex any more developable land.”
Shull said there is a difference between planning and execution.
“I don’t see any downside in planning for the future,” Shull said.
City planners said the next step would be for the city to update the land use plan, which would show how each parcel of land in the urban growth boundary is being used and would help the planners build on any future annexations.
Koder said the planning department is also working on the 2008 annexations in the Rock Springs community. The annexation area has been subdivided into three subareas, with the direction being northwest from The Edinburgh development.