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Annexation: Harriman councilman wants more of Midtown

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By Cindy Simpson

The Midtown interchange along Interstate 40 and Hwy. 70 was a big investment for the city of Harriman.

Harriman’s work on the infrastructure converted the area from a once-desolate exit off a busy interstate into a major area of commerce that includes Kroger and Lowe’s. It’s now home to a state-of the-art hospital, medical offices and a couple of businesses under construction.

Also benefiting, Harriman Councilman J.D. Sampson points out, are businesses outside the city limits who are drawing on increased traffic.

“He’s profiting off the city,” Sampson said last week about the owner of Midtown Auto Sales, which the councilman said has grown over the years. “He won’t admit it …

“Whether these people like it or not, we need them in the city,” he added.

That’s why Sampson is adamant about taking up the annexation issue again. Mayor Chris Mason said last week he’d make sure it’s on the City Council agenda for the regular meeting Tuesday.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Harriman Municipal Office Complex.

A number of Midtown property owners quickly let Harriman officials know their desire to stay outside the city during past considerations for annexation.

Sampson said he’s not interested in gobbling up residential areas, however. He proposes going after all the parcels along Hwy. 70, essentially from the new Roane Medical Center to Ruritan Road, with an eye focused on potential commercial growth along the main corridor of Hwy. 70.

The area is not in the city’s urban growth, and the city has struggled with two county executives to get the coordinating committee to reconvene to discuss changes in urban growth boundaries.

They first tried under former county executive Mike Farmer. Ron Woody, the present county executive, has said he cannot convene the meeting because he doesn’t believe the city has taken proper steps to propose an urban growth amendment.

Harriman officials argue they took the proper steps in 2007, and the committee has yet to convene.