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Harriman cautious in Midtown expansion

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman officials keep eyeing prime real estate along Hwy. 70 in Midtown but are treading carefully before committing to an annexation referendum.

Mayor Chris Mason reminded the Harriman City Council in recent weeks that losing a referendum would have repercussions.

“We also jump the gun and lose this election, we’re out two years, anyway,” Mason said recently.

His comment was in response to Councilman J.D. Sampson’s sense of urgency to move in on properties that have commercial potential along the Hwy. 70 corridor in Midtown.

Parcels being considered front Hwy. 70 from around the new Roane Medical Center being built by Covenant Health and already in the city’s corporate limits to just past Ruritan Road.

The Harriman Regional Planning Commission approved a plan of service at a meeting in late August.

A public hearing will likely be before the City Council meeting on Oct. 2.

City attorney Harold Balcom said about 35-40 properties are in the initial map.  

Council members have visited with residents they could track down in the area, and responses were varied.

Of the parcels looked at, it appears about 12 are lived on. Residents living on those properties are the only ones allowed to vote in a referendum.

Council will have to act swiftly to follow all the deadlines for notifying and holding public meetings in time to get the referendum on the Nov. 6 election.

Balcom said council needs to send a letter to the Roane County School system 30 days prior to the council approving the plan of service. Letters also need to be sent to the property owners involved.

Balcom said the final date to approve a referendum is Oct. 2.

A special election at a later date would cost about $6,000-$7,000.