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Archives 06-30-2010

News

City sued over annexation
Mother and son die in Wednesday fire
Clay County man arrested in connection with theft at LRH

City sued over annexation
The old saying goes, “You can’t fight city hall,” but a group of property owners opposed to recent annexation are taking the battle to Chancery Court.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, June 16, petitioners David Holt, Donna Holt, Lee Crowder, Tamara Crowder, Tony Cannon, Teresa Cannon, Doug Cannon, Geraldine Cannon, Gary Webb, Sherry Webb, David Gore, and Amy Gore, who own property inside the territory subject to the annexation, contest the annexation ordinance passed by the City of Livingston on June 7.

The lawsuit alleges that the City of Livingston has experienced an erosion of its tax base for the past 10 years, and that the city has seen many of its best employers relocate their operations to other countries.

The suit states, “The City has experienced a decrease in tax revenue due to the decrease in economic activity, the closure and relocation of employers.

In the spring of 2010, the City’s board of aldermen began exploring several options to increase the City’s tax revenue. Among these options was the annexation of a neighborhood located south of the existing city limits.

“The territory is bordered on the east by Highway 111 South and on the west by the Windle Community Road. The territory contains approximately 92 parcels of land containing 57 households. Approximately 136 people reside in the area. The total acreage involved consists of 659 acres. The territory is a mixture of commercial property, vacant lots and farm property.

“As part of its analysis, the City concluded that by annexing the property the City would increase tax revenue by $50,037 per year.”

Count 1 of the lawsuit avers that the annexation ordinance fails to comply with the requirements of the state code that reads: “Before any territory may be annexed under this section, the governing body of the municipality shall adopt a plan of services establishing at least the services to be delivered and the projected timing of the services. Upon adoption of the plan of services, the municipality shall cause a copy of the plan of services to be forwarded to the county mayor in whose county the territory being annexed is located.

The plan of services shall be reasonable with respect to the scope of services to be provided and the timing of the services. The plan of services shall include, but not be limited to: police protection, fire protection, water service, electrical service, sanitary sewer service, solid waste collection, road and street construction and repair, recreational facilities and programs, street lighting, and zoning services.”

Count 2 in the suit avers that the plan of services is unreasonable in that it does not meet the minimum requirements set forth in the state code.

The suit states, “Specifically, the plan of services adopted by the City of Livingston fails in the following respects:

a. The plan fails to provide adequate fire protection in that there is no requirement that the City provide fire hydrants as is required by the Livingston City Municipal Code.

b. The plan fails to provide adequate fire protection in that it provides no details as to how the City plans to extend fire protection to the territory in question.

c. The plan fails to provide adequate police protection in that it fails to provide any details as to how the City plans to extend police protection to the territory affected.

d. The plan fails to make any provision for the installation of traffic signals, traffic signs, street marking, and other traffic control devices.

e. The plan fails to make any provision for the emergency maintenance of streets.

f. The plan fails to make any provision regarding the installation of storm drainage, the construction of curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

g. The plan fails to provide for the cleaning of streets, curbs and gutters.”
Count 3 in the suit avers that the implementation schedule contained within the plan of services is unreasonable in that it provides that the city shall install street lighting within 7 years after annexation, and pave existing streets and extend sewer mains as necessary within 10 years after annexation.

The suit states, “The plan of services adopted by the City of Livingston is unreasonable in that it fails to deliver the residents of the effected territory comparable services to those services delivered to all other citizens in the municipality.”

Count 4 in the suit avers that the proposed annexation is detrimental to the prosperity and welfare of the present citizens of Livingston and the property owners of the annexed territory.

The suit states, “A municipality may not extend its corporate limits by annexation unless such annexation is for both the welfare and safety of the residents and property owners in the effected territory, as well as the residents and property owners in the municipality as a whole.

“Due to its precarious financial situation, the City of Livingston lacks the ability to provide essential services to those residents and property owners who are presently located within the city limits. The City of Livingston lacks the financial ability to provide essential services to the residents and property owners of the territory the city seeks to annex.

“Should the City of Livingston be allowed to annex the territory in question, it will further strain and diminish the City’s ability to provide essential services to its residents.”

Count 5 of the suit avers that the city’s primary motivation to annex the territory in question is to increase its tax revenue.

Count 6 of the suit avers that a municipality may not annex any other territory if the municipality is in default on any prior plan of services.

The suit states, “Over the past 50 years, the City of Livingston has, from time to time, annexed property within its city limits. In each instance, and as required by state law, the city has adopted a plan to extend essential city services to the territories annexed. The City of Livingston has failed to provide essential services as set forth in prior plans of services and is therefore in default.”

The petitioners’ attorney, Craig P. Fickling, of Fickling & Madewell in Cookeville, in filing the suit, also requested of the City of Livingston a copy of all ordinances of annexation adopted in the past by the City of Livingston since 1960.

In all 6 counts, the suit asserts that the annexation ordinance is illegal and asks that the Chancery Court declare it null and void.

The annexation ordinance was approved on June 7 with Aldermen Lynn King, Robert Jolley, David Sadler II, and Bill Winningham voting for the annexation ordinance, and Aldermen David Langford and Cindy Robbins voting against it.



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Mother and son die in Wednesday fire



A woman and her son died Wednesday, June 23 after a fire at their home.
Livingston Fire Department and Livingston Police Department responded to a call of a house fire at a residence on Tennessee Drive around 4 p.m.

According to reports, the fire was discovered by Bill Barnes when he came home and found their home full of smoke and heat when he opened the door. Mr. Barnes called 911 for help and tried to enter the home to rescue his wife and son, but he was overcome by smoke.

Within 4 minutes, firemen, police, and EMS workers were on the scene, according to reports. Fireman Mike Boles and Det. Jacob Boswell entered the smoke-filled home and pulled Barbara Barnes, 68, out of the house, but medics were unable to save her.

At this point, Fire Chief Rocky Dial and fireman Timmy Ray entered the home with protective gear and located Barry Barnes in his back bedroom and carried him out of the burning home. Barry Barnes, 48, had apparently been overcome by smoke and Dial and Ray along with EMS personnel began trying to revive him. He passed away at Livingston Regional Hospital a short time later.

Bill Barnes was transported by EMS to Livingston Regional Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

Chief Dial stated that they were able to save the home, but there was a tremendous amount of smoke damage inside.

Chief Dial stated, “The fire appeared to start on the couch, but the exact cause is unknown at this time.”

Special Agent Greg Whitaker of the State Bomb and Arson unit was called in for his expertise with this type of case and is coordinating the investigation with the police department and fire department as it progresses.

Police Chief Greg Etheredge stated, “This is a terrible tragedy for everyone. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family during this trying time.”



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Clay County man arrested in connection with theft at LRH
Officer Ray Smith of Livingston Police Department began a burglary investigation Sunday, June 20 after a patient at Livingston Regional Hospital reported that some of her belongings had been stolen.

Officer Smith coordinated with hospital officials to review surveillance video from the hospital. As the investigation continued, LPD determined that three individuals had entered the hospital and not only had gone into the victim’s room, but also attempted to gain entry to other parts of the hospital.

Det. Jacob Boswell, Det. Tim Poore, and Sgt. Jonathan Swift also became involved in the investigation and soon identified the individuals from the surveillance video. With assistance from Sgt. Robert Garrett of Overton County Sheriff’s Department and other deputies, a search warrant was then executed at a residence in the Hilham community where the suspects had been staying.

A number of stolen items were allegedly recovered from this location.
During this time, Chief Terry Scott of Celina Police Department contacted LPD to advise that he had located two of the suspects in the case. Chief Scott then assisted with the investigation from that point forward and helped recover the remaining items that were reported stolen.

Although the case is still under investigation, Michael Rector of Clay County has been charged with Aggravated Burglary and is in custody at Overton County Jail.

Chief Etheredge stated that the case was solved quickly due to the cooperation of Livingston Regional Hospital officials and coordination and sharing of information by Livingston Police Department, Overton County Sheriff’s Department, and Celina Police Department.

LPD urges people with information related to criminal activity to call the police department at 823-6496, the sheriff’s department at 823-5635, or LPD’s anonymous tip line at (931) 783-3743.


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