Although the city has yet to annex a single piece of property besides the one-tenth-acre tract that raised frustrations and legal issues with Fort Oglethorpe officials in December, the city now lacks only a few petitions from property owners that will allow Ringgold to annex all the way to Hutcheson on the Parkway and possibly beyond.
“We are at a point now of how we want to determine a method of annexation,” Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger said last week. “We have reached our goal as we aimed in the beginning.”
Barger said the city is discussing annexation with three property owners on the opposite side of Battlefield Parkway from Hutcheson on the Parkway.
Should the owners agree, these will give the city the final links needed to reach Pine Grove Road.
According to City Manager Dan Wright the city will hold public hearings on April 7 and April 11, clearing the way for the Ringgold City Council to vote on whether to annex four properties on both sides of Battlefield Parkway west of Interstate 75.
Then Ringgold will likely annex additional properties using a procedure that will require the city to provide a plan for services such as sewerage, the city manager said.
Ringgold expects to annex the remainder of properties along Battlefield Parkway from I-75 to Pine Grove Road by summer, he said.
Mayor Barger said the city will also consider future annexations along the north side of the parkway.
Fort Oglethorpe filed a lawsuit against Ringgold on Jan. 24, hoping to reverse the city’s spot annexation on the parkway.
Cartersville attorney Peter Olson, co-attorney for Fort Oglethorpe with Frank Jenkins, said Ringgold illegally annexed the one-tenth acre parcel because it is not contiguous to (touching) the city’s border.
Ringgold purchased the property from Goosepond Properties, Inc., for $20,661. With the approval of Catoosa County commissioners, the city annexed the property Dec. 13.
Goosepond Properties, Inc., was the first adjacent property owner to petition Ringgold for annexation, asking that its 18 acres be brought into the city.
Brandon Bowen, another associate of Jenkins, said March 24 that under Georgia appellate case law, Ringgold’s annexation must be able to stand upon the facts at the time of the action.
“I don’t know that they could go back and correct whether or not that annexation was valid,” he said. “It is my belief that annexation is kind of like stacking a house of cards they all have to be placed in the right order.”
Bowen said that if Ringgold completes its goal of annexing property along Battlefield Parkway, the original suit could remain in place.
“We would have to go back and look at the other annexations,” he said. “As to this the only thing that matters is whether or not they followed the law at the time.”
Fort Oglethorpe Councilman Ronnie Cobb said last week that it will be up to the City Council to decide whether to pursue the lawsuit against Ringgold.
“I have said all along, as long as they have contiguity I have no problem with it at all (with the annexations),” he said. “If their pockets are not real deep they may be biting off more than they can chew with the services.”
Ringgold City Council hired former Fort Oglethorpe City Attorney Steve Farrow of Minor, Bell and Neal of Dalton, Ga., as its lead counsel to defend the lawsuit.
Ringgold responded in February in Catoosa Superior Court to the Fort Oglethorpe suit, denying a majority of the claims made by Fort Oglethorpe’s attorneys