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Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield wants new pitch to urban growth panel

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said this week he plans to ask Hamilton County officials to reconvene the urban growth boundary committee, even though they shot down the idea two weeks ago.

“Just having one meeting and one vote is not the end of the story,” Littlefield said. “That’s the beginning of the story.”

County Mayor Jim Coppinger responded by saying the law does give the mayor the right to call the committee together again. But he said the law also requires the city to make a proposal and for the committee to vote on that proposal. He noted at the last meeting the city did not have a specific proposal.

“It’s an acting committee,” he said. “It’s not so much a planning committee.”

The urban growth boundary committee met two weeks ago and voted 12-5 not to hear any kind of proposal about expanding the boundaries for cities within Hamilton County. The boundaries dictate how far and where cities can annex property.

The boundaries were set in 2001 by the cities and counties after the state Legislature mandated the move to try to circumvent quarreling over city expansion.

Littlefield said he now has a strategy for the next meeting.

“Now we know who is on the urban growth committee,” he said. “We’ll begin conversing with them.”

But several members of the committee who voted against Chattanooga’s proposal said Friday a conversation would not turn their vote.

Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk said he is surprised the mayor would not have known who was on the committee since the majority of the committee was made up of all the mayors in the county.

“I suspect he knew the potential committee members long before that,” he said.

And Lusk said he doesn’t think his vote will change.

“I do not believe the town of Signal Mountain should have a voice in Chattanooga’s expansion,” he said, and Signal Mountain doesn’t need to move its boundaries at this time.

Lakesite Mayor Ken Wilkerson said the City Commission voted unanimously against the expansion of Chattanooga’s borders.

“We are totally against any proposal or plan by the city of Chattanooga on the west side of the Tennessee River,” he said. “Especially if it encroaches our locks in Lakesite.”

Red Bank Mayor Monty Millard said he believes residents of affected annexation areas should have a right to vote on any annexation of their areas. And he said he is staunch in his decision against Chattanooga’s plan to change the boundaries.

“I don’t think it’s going to do any good for me to change my vote,” he said. “Even with a call from Mayor Littlefield.”

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