by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Mt. Juliet man has started a push to give property owners more rights over being annexed.
William Haupt retired to Wilson County years ago from California, but quickly found himself in a fight to not be annexed by the city of Mt. Juliet.
“I started doing research to find out how one was annexed and didn’t know anything about it,” Haupt said Monday.
After attending weeks of meetings, Haupt won.
Last year, he formed Tennesseans Against Forced Annexation.
“Most of the citizens never know about these meetings or they don’t go to these meetings because they don’t understand the process,” Haupt said.
Big cities across the state, like Memphis and Chattanooga, have grown by annexation. In Middle Tennessee, smaller communities like Murfreesboro, Mount Juliet and Cookeville have also annexed land around them.
Representative Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, says annexation comes with a lot more than just added resources and increased property taxes.
“That city brings along with it its debt and deficits to that area and it is a substantial financial burden to those people and they moved not within a city in order to avoid that,” Carter said.
That’s why he introduced HB475 that would give anyone facing annexation a right to vote on whether they want it.
“I’m not aware of any other activity that a government can bring to bear on a person such as annexation that that individual has absolutely no say in it,” Carter went on to say.
Carter says his research shows 75% of communities would vote in favor of being annexed for more services, but they have to be educated on the entire process.
“If the city has a good plan it will be approved,” he said.
But Haupt says that’s only after people are given a voice in the fight.
“It’s an issue of having a right to vote,” Haupt added.
Cookeville’s City Planner, James Mills, said Monday he worries people would immediately vote against any annexation just because of increased property taxes without fully considering all the benefits, like added sewer or fire protection.
Mills says in Putnam County their goal is not to annex subdivisions, but raw land to give Cookeville room to grow economically.
The House Finance Subcommittee will look at this bill and a handful of others April 3rd. The Senate will consider the companion bill on Wednesday.