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City’s annexation plans important for everyone

Brookhaven officials last week shed more light on the city’sannexation plans.

City residents and concerned citizens in a proposed 16.6-squaremile annexation area would get more direct light if the city wereto hold a public hearing on the subject. That’s something officialshave so far been unwilling to do.

While a public hearing may not be required part of theannexation process, it would be a wise move and would remove atleast the perception that the city may have something to hide bymeeting behind closed doors in executive session.

Nevertheless, annexation attorney Jerry Mills, consultant MikeSlaughter and City Attorney Joe Fernald were forthcoming last weekduring a meeting with this newspaper’s editorial board.

According to Mills, the city’s annexation could be done asquickly as next spring or the process could last well into late2003.

Annexation opposition during an initial chancery court hearing,which is expected to be held in late February, would make thelatter scenario much more likely. Mills stressed that the court isinterested in hearing what those affected by annexation have to sayabout city plans.

Even without opposition, Mills said officials must convince thejudge that the city has reason to need to annex. He cited 12″indicia of reasonableness,” which involve factors such as need,minority voting strength concerns and city planning matters, thatmust be proven for an annexation petition to be granted.

“If we’re unable to do it, there will be no annexation,” Millssaid.

With considerable “spill over growth” and city services alreadyextending beyond the city limits in several areas, earlyindications are that Brookhaven can make a good case forannexation. Fernald acknowledged that questions about Brignallsewer problems and garbage pick up services must be answered ascity officials ponder annexation.

Whether you are for or against annexation, we would encourageBrookhaven residents and those outside the city to take an activeinterest in the city’s plans.

The decision on annexation will play an important role in thefuture economic vitality of not only Brookhaven, but Lincoln Countyas a whole.