KINGSPORT - The Kingsport Regional Planning Commission on Thursday recommended - for the second time - the annexation of 55 acres off Rock Springs Road.
For more than a year, Kingsport planners have been working to bring more developable land into the city limits.
When a group of local developers proposed to build a 330-home neighborhood - The Edinburgh - off Rock Springs Road, planners chose to focus the city's annexation efforts on the land leading up to the project, particularly since the city would be running a sewer line and making water line upgrades to the development.
For 2006, planners sought to annex five areas leading up to The Edinburgh. However, several residents in the community filed a lawsuit to stop the annexation. This action caused the city to halt the other annexations until a course of action could be determined.
The lawsuit was filed by residents of Area 1 - located roughly across from Fiddler's Way - and one of their arguments was the city did not display the plan of services in three areas - as stated by state law. Realizing their mistake, the city repealed the Area 1 annexation in December with plans to bring it back before the Planning Commission a second time.
City officials say the repeal essentially renders the lawsuit moot.
When Area 1 goes before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the plan of services will be posted in four locations - the city manager's office, the planning department, the Kingsport Public Library and the city's Web site.
In addition, Kingsport planner Forrest Koder said the plan of services was also more embellished this time around, with more details about city services to be offered.
On Thursday, the Planning Commission voted again to recommend the annexation of Area 1 to the BMA. City planners, however, have not been given the official word of when to bring this area, along with Areas 2 through 5, to the BMA.
City Manager John Campbell said the five areas would likely begin coming before the BMA in March or April. Campbell added that there is no holdup on these annexations other than trying to make sure everything is done technically right this time around.
"It's more of a case of me asking some questions and trying to make sure we've done our homework and thinking in a reasonable time fashion," Campbell said. "It could be one at time or all at once or anything in between, maybe two at a time. I don't know if there is any particular direction they have other than make sure everything is taken care of."
For the do-over of Area 1, Koder said letters were sent out again to all affected residents telling them of the upcoming annexation. Koder said he has received no phone calls about the annexation, and only one man spoke against the annexation during Thursday's Planning Commission meeting.
"Letters were sent out along with a copy of the city's annexation workbook, work sheet and five-year annexation plan for that entire area. It also included a cover letter explaining to them what we were looking at doing and if there were any questions to call us," Koder said. "The work sheet shows residents the impact that the annexation will have on you personally - taxes, water rate, garbage pickup, sewer rate."
According to the city's five-year annexation plan, three more areas along Rock Springs Road are to be annexed this year. Koder said the planning department is waiting on Areas 1 through 5 before proceeding on Areas 6 through 8.
"The studies are in limbo until we figure out if we're going to proceed with Areas 1 through 5," Koder said, adding that water and sewer costs have been estimated for these areas. "It would take a couple of weeks to complete all three of those areas."
Areas 1 through 5 consist of approximately 443 acres with 283 acres being deemed developable land. Sewer and water costs for the five areas are estimated to be $1.19 million and $696,725, respectively. Areas 6 through 8 consist of approximately 526 acres with sewer and water costs estimated to be $6.5 million.
The effective date of all eight annexations is still Jan. 1, 2008.