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Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield calls for amendment to growth plan

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Tuesday he would like to revisit the county’s urban growth plan to allow expansion of areas municipalities now can annex.

“We’re already looking at bumping up against the limits in some areas,” Littlefield said Tuesday afternoon.

He said he personally delivered a letter to County Mayor Jim Coppinger Tuesday, and a city representative also delivered letters to eight of the other nine municipalities in Hamilton County. Ridgedale was not included.

The mayor’s letter acts as a “trigger” for either the original 2001 committee that established the urban growth boundaries to reconvene or for a new committee to be established.

Coppinger, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, said he did not have much reaction since he had only seen the letter that day.

“We’re evaluating the letter and we will follow what the law requires,” Coppinger said.

The county and city governments set up the urban growth boundary in 2001 after the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law requiring it in the late 1990s. The boundaries were set up as an attempt for cities to have planned growth areas in which they could annex with limited controversy.

Two years ago, the city began annexing swaths of land within its own growth boundaries. A grass-roots organization, Hamilton County Residents Against Annexation, has filed lawsuits against the city to prevent some of those annexations.

Littlefield states in his letter that several factors have happened in the last 10 years that make it essential for the county and its municipalities to revisit the urban growth boundary — the biggest being the arrival of Volkswagen.

He said the county has 60 days to put the committee together.

“If we move quickly, we should be able to have an initial organizational meeting before the end of the year with a goal of completing the work before the end of June 2012,” he states in the letter.

Tennessee Code Annotated said the committee would comprise representatives of the county, all cities, the Board of Education, utility systems and the Chamber of Commerce.

Littlefield said he thought the current growth boundaries are a “little conservative.” He said there are gaps between Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy, as well as Chattanooga and Collegedale that should be closed.

He said based upon state law since he has asked that the urban growth boundary be looked at, it must be done.

“I don’t read anything as an option of them not doing it,” he said.

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