Judge halts Gray annexations with temporary restraining order

Gary B. Gray • Jul 5, 2012 at 4:27 PM

The U.S. District Court in Greeneville has granted five Gray plaintiffs an emergency temporary restraining order against Johnson City, halting what was to be a second reading tonight by the City Commission of a more than 180-acre annexation along the Bobby Hicks Highway.

Commissioners were set to hear the second of three required readings and hold a public hearing on the matter. But the order temporarily stops any further action on the proposed annexation pending a final ruling on a suit seeking recourse on both the Suncrest Annexation passed in May, and the proposed annexation.

On July 1, attorney Alan Woodruff, a Gray resident and Democratic candidate for Republican Congressman Phil Roe’s First District House seat, filed suit against Johnson City in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.

Woodruff, is representing plaintiffs Eric Henley, David Feathers, Randall Jessee, Richard Wagner and Scott Drumwright. All but Drumwright own property in the recent Suncrest Annexation; he owns property in the proposed annexation area.

The plaintiffs are seeking a finding that confirms the city’s annexation rights are constitutionally vague, a halt to the proposed annexation, a declaration that the Suncrest Annexation is null and void as well as attorney fees and costs.

Woodruff claims there are gray areas regarding the city’s constitutional right to go forward with uninvited annexations -- both the Suncrest Annexation, which passed in May, and the proposed Bobby Hicks Highway/Airport Road Annexation which has made it past a first reading.

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