Comprehensive Growth Policies (Public Chapter 1101)

Tennessee’s Growth Policy Act (known as Public Chapter 1101) created a growth planning process for local governments at the same time it changed the state’s annexation laws to require consent outside cities’ urban growth boundaries.  The purpose stated by the General Assembly for the Act is to

  • eliminate annexation or incorporation out of fear,
  • establish incentives to annex or incorporate where appropriate,
  • more closely match the timing of development and the provision of public services,
  • stabilize each county’s education funding base and establishes an incentive for each county legislative body to be more interested in education matters, and
  • minimize urban sprawl.58

While the focus of the Act was to deal with Tennessee’s tumultuous battles over annexation and incorporation, it was also an attempt to further growth planning statewide. Although cities, counties, and regions already had the ability to develop growth plans under Title 13, recommendations resulting from those plans are advisory.  With the passage of the Growth Policy Act, growth plans with defined boundaries for annexation and incorporation were required in all counties without metropolitan governments.  Local governments that failed to adopt growth plans would become ineligible for certain state grants.59  The plans could have three distinct types of areas:  urban growth boundaries (UGBs), planned growth areas (PGAs), and rural areas (RAs).60

The first step in developing plans under the Growth Policy Act was to create coordinating committees.  The coordinating committees were required to include representatives of each of the cities and the county mayor or executive plus representatives of the soil conservation district, utilities, school systems, chambers of commerce, and others representing environmental, construction, and homeowner interests.  The committees developed the plans and submitted them to their county commissions and municipal governing bodies.  The Growth Policy Act requires that certain planning studies and land use projections be completed before proposing a UGB, PGA, or RA.  These requirements were an effort to link growth plans to existing general city and regional planning under Title 13.61  Although some counties’ plans included these studies and projections, most plans are little more than maps depicting the UGBs, PGAs, and RAs.


58 Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 6-58-102.
59 Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 6-58-110.
60 Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 6-58-106.
61 Tennessee Code Annotated, Titles 13, Chapters 3 and 4.