Gray annexation moves forward

Gary B. Gray • Jun 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM

The Johnson City Commission will take the first of three required steps tonight needed to complete a second phase of the city’s planned Suncrest Annexation in Gray.

On paper, it is cited as the “Bobby Hicks Highway/Airport Road Annexation,” and it is a scaled-back version of a much more ambitious plan rolled out by city staff more than a year ago. This plan contains zero agricultural land, which was not the case in the months leading up to this point.

Potentially affected property owners have received notices from the city indicating that the City Commission plans a first reading of an ordinance tonight to annex parcels of land in Gray along the Bobby Hicks Highway from Interstate 26 north to the Washington County/Sullivan County line.

Washington County Commissioners Mike Ford, Mark Larkey and Roger Nave, who serve the county’s 7th District where Gray is located, plan to be involved all the way through this next phase. They did the same during the Suncrest annexation, attending and speaking at City Commission meetings as well as community meetings at which strategies in opposition to annexation were formulated.

“My position regarding annexation is that it should be by the request of each individual land owner with no exceptions,” Larkey said Wednesday. “With a sluggish economy, this is definitely the worst possible time to place any more burden on land owners by annexation.”

This roughly 180-acre annexation could directly affect an estimated 50 people. The majority of land is now vacant, and may be set for commercial or industrial uses. The next largest slice is zoned single- and multi-family.

The proposed annexation incorporates about 2 miles of road, including portions of Bobby Hicks Highway; Airport Road; Kingsport Highway; Roy Martin Road; Judge Gresham Road; and all of Ethan Court and Stowaway Court.

The estimated assessed value of the all existing properties is about $6.7 million.

Commissioners also will consider an ordinance on first reading to remove a 5.4-acre single-family residence and working farm at 124 Jim Richmond Road from the city corporate limits. The property is owned by Jim Richmond and is located within the Suncrest Annexation area that became effective June 2.

When a revised annexation proposal was approved for this first phase, it stipulated that all farm land be removed. At the time, city staff was unaware the property was being used for agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, the city’s storm water plan continues to move forward as commissioners tonight will consider negotiated acquisition settlements for 128 Commerce St. (WW Cab Co., $161,680) and 102 Montgomery St. (Walter F. and Susan Whaley, $75,820).

A resolution also will be considered to authorize the condemnation of 200 W. Market St., Commissioner Jane Myron’s property.

Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said that during the past year sales prices for these properties have been successfully negotiated. However, state law prohibits contractual agreements with elected city officials.

“For this reason, the property on which Ms. Myron has an ownership interest can only be acquired by condemnation, even though Commissioner Myron has no intention of objecting to the city’s acquisition of the property.”

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