It’s been a while since annexation was a major issue at the Municipal and Safety Building. Certainly, Johnson City officials haven’t seen the kind of fuss lately like that stirred up by the city’s aggressive annexation policy of the late 1980s. In the last decade or so, city officials have largely pursued a policy of annexation by request. The only deviation from this has been to fill in some of the doughnut holes created by strategic (or should we say “strip”) annexations of the past.
Now, Johnson City leaders are eyeing one of the most ambitious annexations the city has seen in 20 years. As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray reported in Wednesday’s paper, city planners are proposing the annexation of property along the Bobby Hicks Highway corridor all the way to the Sullivan County line. This annexation could generate $265,000 in annual property tax revenues, which is something to consider in these tight budget times.
But this annexation makes sense beyond the fiscal considerations. Johnson City should be at the forefront of how this important gateway to the city is developed. It must protect these boundaries.
The city has a fire station near the Gray Fossil Site. It is there to serve those areas already inside the city’s limits near the Bobby Hicks Highway and Interstate Highway 26. The city also has plans to develop nearby Keefauver Farm as a municipal park.
This is where Johnson City is growing. As such, the city has a duty to see that the development is orderly and sound. Failure to do so could be costly to the city’s taxpayers down the road.