published Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Hamilton County growth panel sets December meeting


• County executive: Claude Ramsey

• Mayor of each municipality

Chattanooga: Jon Kinsey

Collegedale: Preston Jones

East Ridge: Fred Pruett

Lakesite: Bernard Gloster

Lookout Mountain: Scott McGinness

Red Bank: Pat Brown

Ridgeside: Billy Cooper

Signal Mountain: James Althaus

Soddy-Daisy: Bob Privett

Walden: Elizabeth Akins

• Representative of largest municipally-owned utility, EPB: Jimmy Williams

• Representative of the largest non-municipally-owned utility: Patsy Hazlewood/BellSouth

• Member from county's Soil Conservation District: Merle Crawley

• Member from education agency having the largest student enrollment: Gary Waters/Hamilton County Schools

• Member from the largest chamber of commerce: Jim Kennedy/Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

• Two members appointed by county executive (representing environmental, construction and homeowner interests): Julian Bell, III/Bell Engineering, vice chairman of coordinating committee; Delwin Huggins, SR2soil recycling firm

• Two members appointed by Chattanooga mayor (representing environmental, construction and homeowner interests): Yusuf Hakeem, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Planning Commission, Sue Shaw, Realty Center real estate firm

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger sent letters last week inviting the county's municipal leaders to send representatives to revisit a 20-year urban growth plan.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield asked last month that the urban growth boundaries approved in 2001 be re-examined, citing a burst of recent growth for the city.

Coppinger agreed, as the law requires, to reconvene a coordinating committee and scheduled a meeting for Dec. 15.

"I realize the individuals that comprised the coordinating committee in 2001 are no longer available [because of either not being the designated office holder or being deceased], and wanted to give ample opportunity for those governmental entities that have experienced changes to designate their representative," Coppinger wrote.

City spokesman Richard Beeland said convening the committee is necessary to plan for imminent growth.

"We need everybody to be able to sit down together and talk about how we plan to grow," Beeland said. "Collegedale is going to grow; Soddy-Daisy is going to grow. The I-75 corridor to Bradley County is going to be a very different place in the next 10 years and, if we don't plan now, we'll have let an opportunity slip away from us."

Meanwhile, District 3 Commissioner Mitch McClure has called a town hall meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Loftis Middle School to field constituents' concerns about changing the growth boundaries. He challenged Beeland's assertion that the new look at boundaries has nothing to do with annexation.

"History will prove this is exactly what they are doing," McClure said. "They are encroaching with annexation."

Beeland said the city doesn't know where the process will lead and said McClure's statement was made "on the backdrop of him running for his position and being elected to it."

McClure, who was appointed an interim commissioner earlier this year, faces two primary challengers in a special election in March.

The commissioner said he has received numerous calls and emails from residents of Middle Valley, an area at the northern boundary of Chattanooga's city limits near Hixson.

"You have some very strong development" in that area, McClure said, mentioning neighborhoods such as Stonewall Farms that have sewers, new water lines and fire hydrants.

"It would be a very lucrative annexation for the city of Chattanooga. It's just an easy grab for them."

Any changes to the growth plan would require unanimous approval by the County Commission and all 10 municipalities' governing bodies.

County and city leaders have been careful not to conflate the urban growth boundary review with a 40-year, 16-county growth plan now under way.

"The regional growth plan should not be confused with the urban growth plan," Beeland said.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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