Annexation plan fine tuned

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 4, 2002

Brookhaven officials and their annexation consultant metSaturday morning in executive session to iron out details of aproposed city expansion area.

Ideas discussed Saturday with annexation consultant MikeSlaughter and attorney Jerry Mills must now be translated into mapform.

“We’re going to have a new map prepared,” said City Attorney JoeFernald following the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour.”We’re one step closer to having a plan.”

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Slaughter said he should be able to have a new map for boardconsideration in 30 to 45 days. He did not say what impactSaturday’s discussion would have on the size of the annexationstudy area.

“We’re looking at a couple of options,” Slaughter said. “We’renot sure whether it will be larger or smaller.”

The current study area is 14.6 square miles and, if fullyannexed, would more than triple the city’s size. The current studyarea includes Lakewood Village residents who have filed a petitionin opposition to their inclusion and have hired an attorney torepresent them.

Fernald said Saturday’s meeting included a “candid exchange” ofthe annexation area, the relative merits of the plan and a strategydiscussion on how to proceed. Slaughter said the discussioninvolved some specifics about boundaries and adjustments on what toinclude and leave out of the annexation area.

“We’re not too far away from the city proceeding,” Slaughtersaid. “We’re at the fine tuning stage.”

Fernald expressed concerns about misinformation and rumorsurrounding the city’s annexation plans. He cited a board meetingin which residents who were in an annexation study area that hadbeen rejected appeared to protest.

Once a plan is developed, the attorney said it will be sharedwith the public. Any objectors will also have their chance to voicetheir concerns when the matter is presented in chancery court.

Since the city must take legal action in chancery court toproceed with annexation, Fernald said that qualified Saturday’sexecutive session for reason of prospective litigation.

“This would be a privileged matter since it is a lawsuit,” saidFernald, who cited a 1983 case in which the state Supreme Courtruled that the Vicksburg Planning Commission had a right to meet inexecutive session to discuss annexation.

A Brookhaven police officer was present for Saturday’s meeting.Fernald said the officer was requested in case there was a crowdthat objected to the city’s executive session action.

Saturday’s meeting was discussed at the last board of aldermenmeeting. However, a definite time was not set and the meeting wasnot officially called until Friday.

While waiting briefly for a quorum, the minimum number ofaldermen needed to have an official meeting, board membersdiscussed the city’s need for annexation.

Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill pointed out that Brookhaven,Grenada, Yazoo City, Cleveland and other similar towns all hadabout the same population. However, those communities now havepopulations of 13,000 to 14,000.

“It’s not because so many moved into those towns, it’s becausethey expanded the city limits,” Massengill said.