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Annexation opponents can state their case in court

Brookhaven’s city limits expansion could take effect as early asthe spring or the process could stretch into late 2003, annexationconsultants said Tuesday.

Annexation attorney Jerry Mills, consultant Mike Slaughter andCity Attorney Joe Fernald discussed the annexation process with theDAILY LEADER editorial board Tuesday afternoon. Mills and Slaughtertalked about annexation with city officials during a closedexecutive session city board meeting later Tuesday.

“Part of this is about making everyone aware of what we’redoing,” Fernald said about the city’s annexation plans.

The city’s annexation petition is expected to be filed inchancery court within the next seven days.

After the city’s petition is filed, Mills said a hearing date isset. Notice of the hearing date and annexation data is publishedthree times in the newspaper and posted in at least three publicplaces.

“We generally err on the side of over posting,” Mills said aboutplacing information in more than three areas.

Mills said the hearing date must be set at least 30 days afterthe first publication and posting. However, to ensure sufficientnotice, he typically requests date 60-75 days later.

The first available Lincoln County Chancery Court term is inFebruary.

Mills said the chancellor will have three options regarding thecity’s annexation request. He could grant it in full, grant it inpart or deny the annexation entirely.

People outside a proposed annexation area do not have to worryabout unexpectedly being included in the city plans.

“Modifications cannot be made to add territory to it,” Millssaid about the judge’s options.

At the hearing, if there is no opposition, Mills said the citymay proceed with its case in support of annexation. He said thereare 12 indicia of reasonableness that must be considered in theirtotality in deciding whether to grant an annexation.

“You still have to prove your case even without opposition,”Mills said.

Mills said citizens may appear, with or without an attorney, toprotest and oppose annexation.

“Whether or not they have a lawyer, the judge is interested inwhat they have to say,” Mills said.

If there is opposition or a lawsuit is filed, Mills said thejudge sets up a later time to hear testimony and otherannexation-related information. He said a week to 10 days isusually set aside for annexation cases and that time would bedetermined by court terms, the judge’s and attorneys’ schedules andother factors.

If the city’s annexation petition is granted, it becomeseffective 10 days after the judge’s decree, Mills said. Mills saidthere is also a 10-day window for appeals to be filed.

“We’re going to make sure our I’s are dotted and our T’s arecrossed whether or not we have opposition,” Mills said.