KINGSPORT — Annexation in the Rock Springs community restarted Tuesday night as the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to bring 55 acres of property within the city limits.
Kingsport planners have worked for more than 18 months to annex eight areas of land, nearly 1,000 acres, in the Rock Springs community — areas that lead up to a 330-unit housing development off Rock Springs Road called “The Edinburgh.”
The BMA approved the annexation of three of these areas earlier this year — Area 2 and portions of Areas 3 and 5 — but the city stalled on the remaining areas after residents from each filed lawsuits in Sullivan County Chancery Court challenging their annexation.
Last month, City Manager John Campbell gave city planners the go-ahead to move forward with the remaining seven annexations. City planners have said the plan is to bring one a month to the BMA through April 2008.
The first such annexation on deck is Area 1 — a 55-acre section located roughly across from Fiddlers Way off Rock Springs Road. Approximately 50 people live in this area; estimated sewer installation costs will run $197,000, and water line upgrades are projected to be $135,000.
The BMA voted unanimously on first reading to annex Area 1. The annexation must be approved a second time in order to be finalized, something that will likely take place on Oct. 18.
Tuesday’s vote marks the second time the city has attempted to annex Area 1. In August 2006, the BMA voted to annex Area 1, and in response a group of residents filed a lawsuit to stop it. One of their arguments was the city failed to display the plan of services for Area 1 in three locations — as per state law. For Area 1, Kingsport posted the plan in two locations — City Hall and the planning office.
Realizing their mistake, city leaders pulled Areas 2 and 3 from the BMA’s agenda in September and voted in January to repeal the annexation of Area 1. To comply with state law, the city now displays the plan of services at City Hall, the planning office and the Kingsport Public Library.
Originally all eight annexations were to occur before the end of the year, but with the city’s new elementary school in the Rock Springs community being pushed back to an August 2009 open date, city planners have said there was no rush to annex Areas 6, 7 and 8.
The eight areas proposed to be annexed include approximately 969 acres and at least 585 people. The cost to provide water and sewer to these areas is estimated to be $2.33 million and $6 million, respectively.
The city’s long-range annexation plan in the Rock Springs community is still in effect and carries through 2011. The plan includes nearly 3,100 acres and approximately 2,000 residents in the Rock Springs and Sullivan Gardens communities.
In other business Tuesday night the BMA:
• Voted 5-1 to give Campbell a 2.5 percent pay increase, thus taking his salary from $129,615 a year to $132,856 a year. The 2.5 percent increase takes Campbell’s total raise to 6.5 percent — the maximum any other city employee could receive and the same amount as 23 other city employees received back in July. Alderman Ken Marsh voted against the action.
• Allocated on final reading $11,752 to the Downtown Kingsport Association to help pay for rent and improvements in connection with the arts courses being offered by East Tennessee State University in downtown Kingsport. Alderman Pat Shull voted against the measure.
• Approved on final reading the funding to purchase the Tri-City Linen and Uniform Co. property, which is a property city leaders envision to use, some way, in connection to the proposed academic village downtown. Marsh and Shull voted against the measure.
• Accepted a $47,645 donation from the K-PLAY Sports Council, which will be used as the matching portion of a $250,000 state grant. The money will be used to fund the installation of lights at two ball fields at Domtar Park, one soccer field at Eastman Park, and parking lot lights at both parks.
• Approved on final reading the annexation of the Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church. Colonial Heights Presbyterian requested annexation in order to receive city services, notably fire and police protection, and for a reduction in water and sewer expenses.