Crab Orchard annexation ordinance gets first reading

March 05, 2004|EMILY BURTON

CRAB ORCHARD - In 1890, the population of Crab Orchard was 861. In 2000, the city housed 857 citizens. Those numbers speak for themselves, said Mayor Mike Ramey. It is time for growth. Ramey and the city commission took the first steps toward that goal Thursday night, with the first reading of a proposed annexation west of the city limits.

The large chunk of land, encompassing the planned path of the new U.S. 150, would bring in more than $1,700 in property tax each year while increasing the area of the city limits by more than 40 percent.

"We've been working on this a long time, we have revisited it many times, have redrafted it many times, and we felt that this was the most cost effective, produced the results everyone wants with minimal delay," said Ramey.

The proposed annexation stretches along William Whitley Road to the Whitley house and beside old U.S. 150. It would encompass $1,214,850 in total assessed property.


The land selected is an area in which the commission said it expected to see the most growth in the coming years, with the 2006 completion of the new U.S. 150, their proximity to I-75, Cedar Creek Lake, the sportsman's club and the new 400-acre wildlife management area as major draws.

"Obviously with the lake, there is going to be growth, and it should be managed," said Frankie Dyehouse, city commissioner. "We want to interrelate all that together as a tourist draw."

The city would have to manage approximately 2.5 miles of additional streets. The sewer system, currently operating at about 50 percent capacity, has room to handle the new customers, said Ramey. City water lines are also available in the area, but would have to be updated to 8-inch diameters. Additionally, a water tower would need to be built to sustain pressure for the new fire hydrants that would be placed on William Whitley Road and the new U.S. 150.

Ramey says annexation's size is not financially unreasonable

Ramey said he expected several grants to help fund the improvements, including a federal COPS grant to help cover the costs of additional police officers needed as the population grows. But, he assured the commission the annexation's size is not financially unreasonable for them.

"We feel the annex is the right size. We didn't want to bite off more than we could chew," said Dyehouse.

The extra land and 100-plus additional citizens would raise the city classification from six to a class five. Ramey said this would "open the doors" to a host of benefits, including more state funding.

Residents in the proposed annexation agree the move will benefit them, and the community, said commission members. No citizens from the area attended Thursday's meeting, but Dyehouse said the commission had talked to each of the affected homeowners and heard little complaint. The only property with owners strongly against being annexed was circumvented and excluded from the proposed area. "We're not trying to push this on anyone," said Dyehouse.

Should any voting citizen be against the plan, they have 60 business days after the ordinance is published in the local newspaper to petition against it. A petition must be signed by at least 50 percent of the registered voters in the annexation area to be effective. If not disputed, the city commission may hold the second reading of the proposal, scheduled for June 3.

A copy of the annexation map, legal description and proposal is available to the public in city hall.

"All in all, the annexation is a win-win situation for everyone," wrote Ramey in a press release. "A successful annexation will insure the area will be ready and able to take on the 21st Century head-on and be a city that everyone can be proud to call home. As in the days of the Old Crab Orchard Springs Resort, our city will again become "The Saratoga of the South."

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