Gallaway considering controversial de-annexation to prepare for new I-40 exit

GALLAWAY, Tenn. — A small town in Fayette County is gearing up for some big changes. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is constructing a new exit off Interstate 40, which will create the only break in the highway in the 18 miles between Arlington and Stanton. It will give Gallaway its only direct access to I-40.

As a result, city manager Terry Leggett said they expected new investment in the town, including hotels and apartments.

"This new area is going to be a real revenue producer for the city," Leggett said.

But that meant they'd need to extend services like utilities and public safety, which the city has still yet to do for about 70 properties it annexed on Center Point Road in 2007.

People who live on that street said they've paid their taxes to the town, but haven't gotten anything in return.

"You can't get them to clean. The police don't patrol. We have nothing from Gallaway. So we want out," resident Debbie Lemmon said.

Leggett has proposed de-annexing the street.

"It's not fair for us to borrow money, get grants and run services to a new area when we have areas that have been in the city for 10 years that don't have any services," Leggett said.

Most people at a town hall meeting Thursday night raised their hands in support of de-annexation.

But some weren’t sure, including city Commissioner Dennis Timbes, who lives on Center Point Road and could lose eligibility to his position.

"I'm just skeptical of why they're doing it," Timbes said.

Legget said it could cost $2 million to extend services to the new interstate exit.

TImbes wondered why the city would decrease its tax base by de-annexing during such a crucial time.

The de-annexation proposal will be up for a first vote on April 12. Gallaway's board is made up of three members: mayor, vice-mayor and one commissioner.

The measure would have to pass another reading after April 12 before it could go into effect.

The city manager denied his proposal had anything to do with political motivations.