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Legislation would stymie Harriman annexation efforts

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman officials aren’t too pleased about proposed state legislation that would require annexation of a territory by a municipality be subject to approval by the majority of the residents in the proposed territory.

“We desperately need to annex in Midtown,” said Harriman Councilman J.D. Sampson.

Harriman has invested heavily in the Midtown area. Investments include contributions to the Pinnacle Pointe Shopping Center anchored by Kroger and Lowe’s and the city’s part in the expansion of the Interstate 40 interchange.

Sampson worries the city will lose its chance to benefit from that work.

“We need to contact each one of our representatives and let them know we are against annexation by referendum.”

The matter is still before the Tennessee General Assembly.

Last month, the state House of Representatives passed the bill that requires approval by the majority of qualified voters who reside in the territory to approve annexation.

The state Senate has not voted on the matter.

City attorney Harold Balcom agrees the legislation has potential to hamper Harriman’s growth.

He also worries it could cause problems for part of the mediation agreement with Pinnacle Pointe developers Jerry Duncan and Steve Kirkham. The pair agreed not to fight annexation of some of their remaining commercial property just outside the city limits when it came time for them to sell it.

Balcom worried the legislations’ actions may take that away from the city.

The city and developers went into mediation in November 2013 and reached an agreement on their ongoing litigation with each other that stemmed originally from a 2007 state audit.

The audit claimed the city was owed $234,685 toward public funds spent on private development. The developers later sued the city, arguing they were owed instead, including for the land under the roadways in the development.