published Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Charleston annexation plans in the works

By Paul Leach/Correspondent

CHARLESTON, Tenn. -- Charleston officials say they are awaiting final approval of plans to annex to the southwest and have received several requests to annex more areas farther west and south of the Bradley County city.

Mayor Walter Goode discussed the initial phase of Charleston's annexation plans at a recent City Commission meeting. The plan includes a limited area comprising 272 homes near Charleston Elementary School.

"I'm thinking positive," Goode said. "We're just starting to see our growth begin now, and we've just got to continue to do things that we can do to make the best of it."

He said the annexation plans are under review by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, a state consulting agency for local governments. Once the plans have been finalized, the city will begin public hearings. Goode said he expected the biggest challenge would be to find three places to post notices for the hearings.

Commissioner Donna McDermott requested more work sessions about the annexation efforts.

"I personally would like to have more understanding what is actually taking place and how we're going to handle each situation," especially within each of the city's departments, she said.

Goode said the commission should hold a work session to review the annexation plans when they come back from the advisory service.

The mayor cited several advantages for city residents, including garbage collection, police protection and lower fire insurance premiums.

The big advantage of the annexation for the city will be to move its current population of 651 closer to 1,000 residents, Goode said. Once the city population reaches that number, it will be eligible for more grants, he said.

Looking ahead to the next five years, Goode said Charleston would need to consider making changes to its infrastructure, including possibly increasing the number of staff members in departments and the number of city commissioners.

Some northern Bradley County residents and businesses already have contacted the city with positive responses to future incorporation within Charleston, Goode said.

Goode said several people who live or do business in areas south of Lauderdale Highway and west toward Interstate 75 told him they were encouraged to request Charleston annexation because they did not want to be annexed by Cleveland, Tenn.

In December, Cleveland officials announced they were reviewing the possibility of expanding the city's urban growth boundary northward along Mouse Creek Road and Interstate 75 toward exit 33.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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