Annexation talks simmer

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By Cindy Simpson

When stirrings of Midtown annexation along Hwy. 70 renewed, it didn’t take long for Midtown business owners to once again let their feelings of disapproval be known.

Recently, Harriman Councilman J.D. Sampson complained that area businesses, including some outside the city limits, have thrived as a result of investment Harriman has put into the Midtown corridor.

He said the additional traffic because of businesses like Lowe’s, Kroger and the Roane Medical Center in Midtown can be credited to those projects and is a positive for Midtown property owners.

He thinks they should pay Harriman taxes as a result.

“You reap the benefits,” Sampson told Melvin Marlow, who owns Midtown Auto Sales, at a recent meeting.

“That is enough right there,” a steamed Marlow countered. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“They cannot offer me nothing,” he said after the meeting. “There is no benefit for me being in the city.”

Marlow said he is particularly worried about increases in business taxes.

He and other small business owners in Midtown disagreed the traffic has benefited them.  

“They might go by my place, but they aren’t stopping,” he said. “The economy is bad.”

Sampson is for adding all the properties that have always been left off at their owners’ request.

If he has his way, the city might even go after Pattersons Home Appliances, which, because of a past gentlemen’s agreement with owner Steve Patterson, has always been left alone although the property is surrounded by Harriman city limits.

Sampson said he understood keeping the promise to Patterson, but he also said he didn’t think it was fair to others to include some but not others.  Sampson noted the operation has stores in the Knoxville and Rockwood city limits.

Harriman City Council will discuss where, when and how to approach any future annexation at its next workshop, 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.

Councilman Ken Mynatt said he would like to see City Attorney Harold Balcom attend the meeting.

The council has struggled to amend its urban growth when previous urban growth committees did not convene after the city requested it.

Now the city may have to start anew with the process to request the committee reconvene.

If the county will not convene the committee, the city may have to file a lawsuit.

Other avenues to annex the property would be by referendum, which was what was being considered before.

This rankled many of the Midtown Hwy. 70 business owners because they do not live on the properties and thus have no votes.

Only those living in the proposed area can vote in a referendum.