High court to weigh in on Harriman vs. Kingston

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By Cindy Simpson

How will five Tennessee Supreme Court justices interpret annexation law?

Officials in Harriman and Kingston will find out when their legal representatives argue before the state’s highest court over a stretch of turf along Hwy. 70.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Kingston’s petition, Harriman City Attorney Harold Balcom said last week. Kingston is seeking to overturn a lower court decision that found in favor of Harriman.

“Our brief is due in about 20 more days,” Balcom said. “They’ll schedule oral arguments. Probably, we’re in a three- to five-month time frame to have a final answer.”

Harriman and Kingston officials are battling over which city’s annexation
proceedings take precedence.

Kingston held a referendum election to annex the property in February 2008.

Harriman first sought to annex the property through ordinance, approved on first reading January 2008.

The area is outside both cities’ urban growth boundaries.

Kingston officials argue that Harriman’s ordinance means nothing because Harriman officials did not first get an amendment to their urban growth boundaries.

Harriman officials, however, counter that merely requesting the amendment was enough.

Roane County Chancery Court found in favor of Kingston. That decision was overturned, however, by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville.

Balcom expressed confidence in his argument, but he said judges could go either way.

“Three judges agreed with us last time,” he said.

“I guess we’ll find out what they think when we get there.”