De-annexation deemed 'win-win'

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

The city of Loudon Regional Planning Commission will recommend approval of a request by several Loudon property owners to be taken out of the city limits.

Owners of five property parcels on Matlock Bend Road — Paige Townson, Ken Berry, Thomas Henderson and Walter York — have requested de-annexation from the city after plans fell through to develop Tennessee National.

The parcels were sold when Tennessee National development was under way and city services were expected in connection with the development. The property owners said no amenities were provided by the city except garbage pickup.

"We were hoping Tennessee National was going to make a go and we were going to do a boat dock and get sewer hook-n, but we got no amenities except garbage," property owner Ken Berry said.

Berry said the five property owners pay $2,300 to $2,400 in annual taxes, but the city's cost to send garbage trucks, police and mowers to the remote location probably exceeds any tax revenues.

Russ Newman, Loudon County planner, recommended the commission approve the request. The procedure is similar to annexation, he said, requiring an ordinance amendment.

"I think it is in the city's best interest," Newman said. "They don't have most of the city services, and they have no prospect for getting them at any time in the near future. That's the reason they are asking for de-annexation."

York, another property owner, said the property did not have fire hydrant access as is required inside the city. The problems with the property make it impossible to sell.

"Who wants a house in the city on a deadend road?" he said.

"I'm trying to figure out how they ever got in the city," Commissioner Carlie McEachern said. "The money will be saved on both ends of this today. It's not often that we can please everybody, but I think a resolution for de-annexation is a no brainer. It’s a win-win."

Joint meeting Wednesday
The city of Loudon Regional Planning Commission and Loudon City Council will have a special joint meeting at noon Wednesday at the Carmichael Inn to discuss issues that have arisen in recent months concerning site plan requirements.

Newman said the meeting was requested by council to cover two issues.

"They want to cover the planning commission and Board of Zoning Appeals and the separation of duties and how they overlap responsibilities," he said. "Also, they are concerned about us requiring paving of parking lots for commercial businesses. These are the two biggest issues."

Commissioners are divided on their interpretation of their duties.

Newman said paved parking lots are not a requirement according to the zoning ordinance. "It is a design consideration. It is not always cut and dried and that creates heartburn for some council members," he said.

Commissioner Dennis Brennan said the commission deflects some issues from council.

"It appears to me if members of the city council really value the appointed board they will let them take care of matters," he said. "They need to be careful how much they put back on themselves."

"We work as a deflector, but we are appointed," McEachern said. "They are elected. They have to explain things to people."

Commissioner Ken Brewster said he did not understand how the same body can serve as planning commission and BZA.

McEachern said there is a perception that the group's powers are too broad. "If the council wants us to go a different direction, we work for them," he said.