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Harriman growth on hold – for now

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman has very few options if officials want to move forward on expanding the city’s boundaries.
The city’s request to reconvene the coordinating committee that sets urban growth boundaries has been denied, even though officials have said they followed procedure in 2007 and the committee never was convened.
City Attorney Harold Balcom discussed the issue at a council meeting earlier this month. He said the city had a few options, including taking the county to court to force it to reconvene the committee or do as suggested and restart the process.
Both, Balcom said, would take around the same time.
“Both are time consuming,” Balcom added.
Harriman Mayor Chris Mason said the city council has decided to hold off on the issue because much of the area officials are concerned about is to be part of a referendum scheduled for this June.
The most recent letter by County Executive Ron Woody to city officials suggests the city start the process of public meetings and service plans from scratch.
“We respect Harriman’s request to reconvene the committee but we feel there is less risk to all parties by starting the process over,” Woody writes.
Woody noted that the initial request is approximately three and a half years old, leadership has changed, coordinating committee membership has changed, public opinion may have changed and the county is working to improve sewer service in areas including Midtown.
Balcom said the urban growth committee discussions are public and the committee has to have public hearings as well. Those, he said, would satisfy any desire for the public to have input.
Balcom also took issue that the city of Kingston had any qualms over the urban growth committee reconvening.
Currently Kington and Harriman are still awaiting a Tennessee Supreme Court opinion over which community’s annexation measures took precedence on a stretch of properties between the current Harriman city limits and the Hwy. 70 bridge going into Kingston.
Balcom believes Kingston may be responsible for the holdup.
“Basically what is happening is they want the litigation over Midtown settled before they are willing to come to” a coordinating committee, Balcom said.
Balcom said he believes Kingston officials are thinking if they are the possible winners in the ongoing litigation that they could expand their urban growth boundaries even further into the Midtown area once a coordinating committee reconvenes.