KINGSPORT — City Manager John Campbell is recommending the city not annex a portion of Warriors Path State Park to reach a proposed housing development off Fall Creek Road and instead use an alternate route in order to alleviate some of the concerns of nearby county residents.
Kingsport has been planning to annex 255 acres of the park as a way to reach a proposed 25-acre development off Fall Creek Road. Sullivan County residents Kenneth and Anita Bates requested annexation by the city and plan to develop the property into a new subdivision called “Chase Meadows.”
City planners chose to reach the development by going through the park, which is contiguous to the city limits, then down Fall Creek Road. The Kingsport Regional Planning Commission reviewed three alternate routes to the development, but in November voted unanimously to recommend the original route to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The annexation is scheduled to go before the BMA on Tuesday.
Since being publicized, the annexation has drawn the attention of many residents in the Fall Creek community, who are opposed to the city annexing a portion of the park. An unofficial group of residents is calling itself the Coalition Against Fall Creek Annexation and has met several times with city leaders and BMA members about the Chase Meadows annexation.
On Friday, Campbell included a memo to the BMA agenda packet, recommending the city annex the road through the park to the development, but not take in any of the park property.
“While it is the informed opinion of our legal staff that annexing a portion of the Park would be legal, annexing the Park at this time is a major cause of consternation for a number of residents. With the annexation amended thusly, we can alleviate at least some concerns of opponents to the annexation,” Campbell wrote in the memo. “At the same time, we maintain our strong commitment to supporting the efforts of area developers who are desirous of constructing new, high-quality housing inside the city limits of Kingsport.”
The route Campbell is recommending is one of the three city planners offered to the planning commission as an alternative. The route goes from Hemlock Park Drive to Hemlock Drive to Hemlock Road to Fall Creek Road. This would take in 2.47 miles of road, have a one-time cost of $163,873, and have recurring costs of $41,872.
Going through the park would bring into the city 1.1 miles of road.
One-time costs would be $283,830, with reoccurring costs of $18,707.
There is no difference in revenue to the city among the options.
Reached by phone on Saturday, Campbell said he thinks his recommendation is the most practical thing to do at this time. Campbell acknowledged the city has the legal right to annex a portion of park, noting the property is within Kingsport’s urban growth boundary.
In addition to the park property, seven park residents — people who work for and live in the park — would be included in the annexation. Jerry Adams, the park manager who lives in Warriors Path, also signed the petition to be annexed.
Carolyn Nash, a member of citizens group opposed to the annexation, said she was pleased with Campbell’s recommendation.
“I think that it will please those who are interested in preserving the park outside of the city limits. Part of our interest in getting involved is to convince the city that the park should not be annexed,” Nash said. “We’re going to wait and see what happens on Tuesday and re-evaluate. We’ve learned some things along the way and we may have some additional issues to request.”
Nash said some of the group’s issues dealt with a lack of notification about the rezoning and that a sign was not posted to warn people about the rezoning.
“The first notice we got as the public was through the newspaper article,” Nash said.
Campbell’s recommendation marks the second time in recent months changes to proposed annexations have taken place. When a group of residents complained about being included in the Bell Ridge annexation, Campbell recommended removing them from the proposed annexation.
Ultimately, the BMA choose not to act on the Bell Ridge annexation.
Campbell said he doesn’t think this will cause any ill will with the planning commission.
“In my experience it’s very rare that a planning commission doesn’t ultimately understand when the BMA looks at something like this they’re looking at it in a much broader context ... the long term vision of the city, relationships, where we’re going, and future developments,” Campbell said, noting the BMA has the right to approve, reject or modify what comes out of the planning commission. “There’s so many things we’re into now there’s no reason to get into conflict if you don’t need to.”