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Annexation study continues; Lakewood Village wants out

Brookhaven officials are continuing to ponder city expansionquestions following a presentation by an annexation consultant atTuesday night’s meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

Mike Slaughter, with Bridge and Slaughter consultants, saidannexation study area data had been finalized. However, he stressedthe 14.6 square mile area under consideration remained only a studyarea and not a proposed annexation area.

“This boundary is not set in stone. It can be adjusted,”Slaughter said during a board meeting discussion with aldermen andan attorney representing residents of Lakewood Village, asubdivision that is included in the study area.

Attorney Robert Rogers said the subdivision residents see nobenefit of their being taken into the city and requested their areabe removed from the study area.

“We just feel the area is not in need of any city services orinfrastructure,” Rogers said while leaving the board meeting. “Wehope the board decides to delete this area from the study.”

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson agreed with LakewoodVillage residents’ wishes to not be annexed. Mentioning a desire toattract franchise fast food restaurants to the parts of the city,the alderman suggested the city look in other directions besidesthe south for annexation.

“I’d like to have a lot of say in that out there,” Wilsonsaid.

One aspect Rogers questioned during the meeting was how the cityplanned to deal with the Lakewood Village area currently served byTopisaw Creek Water Association. Slaughter said lines currentlyserving the area were adequate, but the study area plan takes intoconsideration an improvement to provide more water if needed.

“We have an upgrade if that is necessary,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter said Phase 1 of water system improvements wasestimated at $4.2 million, while sewer system upgrades wereestimated at around $5 million.

Slaughter also presented other anticipated costs of annexing thefull study area. He said the study area is self-supporting.

First-year costs for providing city services to the annexed areawere estimated at $1.16 million. Additional first-year revenue fromthe annexed area would be $38,000 more than expenditures, Slaughtertold officials.

“It would increase annually through the next five years,”Slaughter said.

Aldermen took no action regarding annexation during the meeting.Slaughter said a timetable has not be determined.

“It’s up to the city as far as a timetable,” Slaughter said.

Later in the meeting, Alderman at large Les Bumgarner said hehad received a call from officials with Wal-Mart’s corporateoffices expressing their objections to the distribution centerbeing annexed. He also encouraged board members to further considerboundaries and what will be targeted for annexation.

“I’ve got some ideas and nobody’s ever asked what I thought,”Bumgarner said.

Prior to the regular board meeting, aldermen and the mayor metbehind closed doors for around 30 minutes with Slaughter to discussannexation statistics. City officials said the door was closed dueto noise from the hallway outside the board room.

“This was a working meeting to allow us to ask questions,” saidMayor Bill Godbold about the early meeting.

Booklets with annexation data distributed during the earlymeeting were taken up before the regular meeting began. When Rogersasked for a copy of annexation data during the regular meeting,city officials said the request would be granted when a proposedstudy area is finalized.

City officials indicated additional work sessions, which areopen but are not official board meetings where actions can betaken, would be needed as the city moves forward on annexationplans. Times were not determined.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said City Attorney Joe Fernald,speculating, though, that annexation would be acted upon thisyear.