TN lawmakers to soon decide on future of annexations - WSMV Channel 4

TN lawmakers to soon decide on future of annexations

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

One Tennessee lawmaker warns there could soon be a mad rush by cities to annex as much property as possible, so he is pushing for a change to stop it.

As the law stands now, a set of homes in rural Williamson County could be annexed into the city of Franklin without the homes' residents having a say.

Williamson County resident Mitch Baker said he has no desire to become part of Franklin or pay its city taxes.

"That ain't right. Next thing, you wake up in the morning and you're in the city limits. This is supposed to be America," Baker said. "Why should the people in town have control over the people out here? They should be the ones voting about it, not the city."

State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said that law needs to be changed, but a change could come at a cost.

"That is a fundamental issue in the United States," Watson said.

Watson is pushing for a bill that would require a majority vote from those that would be annexed by a Tennessee municipality.

"It's very simple: Do you believe the citizens should have a voice in the annexation process? It's that simple," Watson said.

Until they can get that voice, Watson wants to put a freeze on all annexations until 2015.

"If we don't do something now, there is going to be a mad rush by cities to annex, because they see what's on the horizon," he said.

Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said Franklin stands to double in size, and jobs and extended services would all come with it.

"Our ability to respond to those opportunities and extend services all need to happen so we can compete and get jobs and investments in our community," Stuckey said. "To put it on hold hurts our ability to compete."

As for a vote on annexation, Stuckey said it isn't necessary, because his city already asks for public input before making moves.

"In Franklin, we've done it the right way," he said.

Stuckey said he hopes to add exclusions to the bill for cities like Franklin which, he said, have annexed responsibly in the past.

Meanwhile, Watson is asking to people to call their lawmakers and weigh in on the issue soon, because the lawmakers' vote is fast approaching.

The bill that would require a referendum vote for annexations is up in the House Finance Committee, and a separate bill that would put a moratorium on annexations until 2015 is up for a full Senate vote on Monday.

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