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Chattanooga nixes Hixson deannexation ordinance

Residents of Hixson neighborhoods such as Ramsgate, West Point, Laurel Cove, Rose Garden and Jackson Square will start off the new year as official residents of the city of Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga City Council voted 5-4 at its Dec. 3 meeting to reject an ordinance that would have deannexed certain parcels adjacent to the city’s current boundaries between Hixson Pike and Middle Valley Road.

The city council adopted an ordinance that annexed the territory in May 2012. Numerous residents of Hixson Pike and Middle Valley Road then filed a petition to be deannexed from the city in October 2013.

Chip Henderson, Jerry Mitchell and Ken Smith, the three councilmen who represent the Hixson area, each voted in favor of the recent ordinance to deannex the area, as did District 4 Councilman Larry Grohn.

District 1 City Councilman Chip Henderson said during the recent meeting that he was voting for the ordinance because the area had not yet received any city services and had not yet been placed on the city’s tax rolls.

District 2 City Councilman Jerry Mitchell was concerned about overextending city service providers.

“[Chattanooga Police Department Sector 1 Cmdr.] Capt. [Eric] Tucker is going to have to spread his forces thinner still,” Mitchell said. “I’ve bought into budgeting for outcomes, and we’re going to add more challenges to the city now.”

District 3 Councilman Ken Smith, who introduced the deannexation ordinance, also voiced financial concerns.

“This is just an issue where we don’t need to be spending money on things we don’t need,” he said.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said he was voting against the ordinance because of the precedent it would set to go back on the settlement agreed upon last year.

“There are other communities that could come before us with the same type of concerns,” he said. “We have people that have made and agreed to a settlement.”

Council members Russell Gilbert, Moses Freeman, Carol Berz and Chris Anderson also voted against the ordinance.

Meeting attendee Wade Swicord said he thinks the council made the right decision.

“You can’t be ambivalent about making a law and changing it,” he said. “There are too many other communities who might say ‘We also want to leave.’”

Chuck Dailey, who was at the meeting representing the Laurel Cove neighborhood, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the vote.

“I thought we had a chance of getting our section deannexed,” he said, adding that he believes the area already receives stellar services from the Dallas Bay Fire Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. “We just have to accept the fact we’re being absorbed in the city; and the services they’re providing — they better happen.”

Smith said that residents of the annexed area will be added to the tax rolls beginning Dec. 31, and they will begin receiving city services such as trash, police and fire services immediately. The city has up to 36 months to begin providing services that require more infrastructure, including sewer and stormwater services, he said.

Another benefit to residents joining the city of Chattanooga is an improved ISO fire protection rating, which could lower insurance rates. DBFD has an ISO of 3, while the city of Chattanooga is rated higher, at a 2.