Harriman wants to open dialogue on urban growth

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By Cindy Simpson

Roane County and its communities may soon meet for the first time in years to discuss their urban growth boundaries.

Harriman Councilman Lonnie Wright made the motion to have Mayor Chris Mason request a meeting of the coordinating committee.

The committee is a group of selected representatives from each community and the county who work together to reach agreement on changes to the urban growth boundary map.  

Wright said the committee hadn’t met in years, despite requests when former County Executive Mike Farmer was in office.

“I hope it was not deliberate or intentional they couldn’t meet or didn’t meet,” Wright said. “It certainly was important to us.”

Harriman and Kingston became embattled over turf in Midtown because of two rival annexation attempts.

Harriman officials argue their ordinance and request to reconvene the urban growth committee trumped Kingston’s referendum. Harriman filed a lawsuit to halt Kingston’s annexation after the referendum was successful.

An appeals court found in favor of Harriman and the final argument is set to be heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Councilman J.D. Sampson favors persuading property owners of Harriman’s benefits.

“We ought to go down there, talk to them people and see if we can’t get an idea of how they feel and go ahead and have a referendum,” Sampson said.

“You can still do both,” Mason responded.

Sampson said he worried that Harriman would back down against Kingston and Rockwood.

“In the past, the council didn’t really stand up against Rockwood and Kingston and the county,” he said. “The urban growth plan is about what we got down there. I’m worried the council will let Rockwood and Kingston and the county bully us around where we won’t take what we need down there.”

Sampson would like to see Harriman annex all of Midtown essentially, going down Hwy. 70 to Caney Creek Marina.