KINGSPORT — Wanted: Property owners in the Rock Spring community who wish to be annexed.
This is essentially the position Kingsport will be taking toward property owners in three areas of land slated for annexation later this year.
For more than 18 months 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 has approved seven of the 10 annexation areas in the Rock Springs community. Lawsuits have been filed by residents in six of the areas to stop the annexations, and in all likelihood a seventh lawsuit will be filed from residents of the north side of Area 5 — the area the BMA approved annexing earlier this month.
City Manager John Campbell said some Rock Springs residents who want to be in the city are being prevented from doing so, since their property falls within an area under litigation. The lawsuits have put a stay on the effective date of the annexations.
“One thing we’ve learned is we’ve had to be able to adjust at a particular time. What wasn’t anticipated was we would have an attorney in Knoxville suing everyone in the state over annexation, whether he knew anything about the annexation or not,” Campbell said. “We’ve got some areas that probably have some people who would like to be in. There’s a lot of interest in some people wanting to be on the sewer line, and because of what we’ve done, it’s developed a lot of interest from developers.
“We have people looking at the area for open space.”
City Planner Forrest Koder said he has received some calls from people in the areas under litigation showing an interest in the new elementary school.
During a BMA work session Monday afternoon, Campbell recommended the city send a message to property owners in Areas 6, 7 and 8 that if they want to be annexed by the city, they can request it over the next 90 days.
“This is not a pause, just an adjustment,” Campbell said.
Running parallel to this window of annexation request, Campbell said city staff would be preparing the remaining portions of Areas 6, 7 and 8 to go before the BMA right after the 90 days, probably at the BMA’s second meeting in May.
“It delays the whole thing, but expedites the people who want to be in,” Alderman Ken Marsh said.
Campbell said he believes of the 550 acres located in Areas 6, 7 and 8, up to approximately 130 acres are not “frozen out” by other areas under litigation. Kingsport can’t annex through an area under litigation to reach another property slated for annexation.
Kingsport has been working by a five-year annexation plan for the Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens community since 2006. City planners have asked various city departments for cost estimates for the areas in the Rock Springs community slated for annexation later this year. Alderman Pat Shull asked about the 2009 and 2010 annexations.
“It revolves around what happens in the lawsuits,” Campbell said. “We’ll get a different attitude once we’ve won the suits and be successful.”
Campbell advised the BMA earlier this month to put future Rock Springs annexations on hold until the pending lawsuits were resolved. A response to the lawsuits is expected soon, Campbell has said.