Annexations Likely to Stall

A bill is sailing through the state Legislature that forbids cities annexing property without a vote of the people affected, either onsite or absentee owners. Tennessee municipalities have been fighting the proposal, and last year got a one-year delay. But the measure is expected to pass this session baring some miracle.

Winning annexations by referendum is costly and very difficult and will likely stall city growth unless the property owners request annexation. A study is underway to try and work out a compromise, but the study for the past year did not produce a solution.

In Knoxville there are about 100 parcels in court challenging annexation; the status of these parcels if the legislation passes is not clear. If annexation requires a vote, it also negates the urban growth boundaries, a compromise achieved years ago that allows cities to plan for orderly growth.

Knoxville has some weird areas, like 525 houses in the Kingston Woods area, between Westland Drive and Montvue, where 20 of the houses aren't in the city. How do you hold a referendum?