published Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Bradley County officials back law on annexation vote

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County officials would like to see changes in state law to require any annexation be approved in a referendum vote by a majority of residents of the affected area.

Earlier this week, the county commission voted 13-0 on a resolution in support of proposed state legislation that would require referendum votes for any annexations. The change would eliminate the current option of processing an annexation through passage of ordinances, according to House Bill 230 and Senate Bill 731.

"[Tennessee is] one of only three states that do not do this as of now," said Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones, a developer who was elected to the county commission last August.

"I think people should always have some input in what's happening to property they own," said Commissioner Terry Caywood, who asked that state legislators seriously consider similar sentiments from other counties and not table the issue for study and, eventually, bury it.

The county's stance was announced in the wake of recent Cleveland planning discussions about the proposed annexation of eight areas around the county that would incorporate 2.41 square miles and more than 500 residents within city limits. If the annexation process goes according to schedule, it will be completed by June 13 and result in an estimated $152,755 in additional city property tax revenue annually.

The Bradley County Commission also voted 13-0 to formally request that the city accept any developer plats already approved by county inspectors within the proposed annexation areas.

Two developments within those areas -- the Silver Springs subdivision near Freewill Road and a townhome development on Urbane Road -- have come under scrutiny by members of the Ocoee Regional Building Association, who are concerned work will have to be redone to meet city standards.

City standards require 24-foot road widths, compared to the 22 feet required by the county, said Lake Mantooth, president of the building association. Cleveland also has more stringent setback standards.

Cleveland officials are working to address developers' concerns, said Corey Divel, senior planner for the city's Development and Engineering Department.

"We've all but got something hammered out," Divel said of an attempt to accept development approvals previously given by the county.

The Planning Commission will meet at the municipal building at noon Thursday to discuss plans of service for the Silver Springs subdivision and the Urbane Road townhome development.

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

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