Many issues remain cloudy surrounding Seymour proposal

Feb. 09, 2014 @ 08:26 PM

From reporter Jeff Farrell’s tireless research on the topic of Seymour’s incorporation over the past two weeks, something has became abundantly clear.

Neither the state of Tennessee nor the community of Seymour seems prepared for the large unincorporated area to become a full-fledged city.

Calls to a variety of state offices with questions about the incorporation process were met with confused responses and directions to contact other agencies.

The state largely directs inquiries to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service — a University of Tennessee group dedicated to helping answer technical questions for already-established cities and towns.

While MTAS is certainly helpful, it’s not a state regulatory agency and its opinion on matters related to Seymour’s situation are just that — opinions.

With a slew of Tennessee codes, attorney general’s opinions and Supreme Court rulings floating around, it’s next to impossible for a citizen or group of citizens to get completely up-to-date and accurate information on the steps a community would have to do to become incorporated.

In fact, one MTAS document officials often mention about the topic is nearly 15 years old and leaves many questions unanswered.

With no new areas successfully incorporated in the state since Three Way in Madison County became official in 1998, it’s no wonder most at the state level become slack-jawed at the mention of forming a new city.

They hear the requests so infrequently, they’re not even sure which department would be responsible for overseeing the process.

Those behind Incorporate Seymour, the group pushing for the community to unify as Sevier County’s second-largest city, also seem somewhat behind the curve on the process.

It was suggested at the first meeting that members might be premature in bringing the matter to the public, and it has since come to light that they were unaware a large portion of their proposed city borders is in an area that might be ineligible for incorporation under the growth plan adopted by local governments several years ago.

In addition, no plan of services for the proposal has been released. And many of the primary arguments cited for the effort seem flawed.

Incorporate Seymour had argued the area was under threat of annexation, but the same growth plan appears to protect Seymour residents from involuntary annexation.

All in all, if the community’s citizens truly wants to incorporate there’s a lot of hard work, planning and convincing still to do. This isn’t a step to take on a whim. Careful considerations must be made, and proper, thorough planning would be vital.