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City prepares for Tues. hearing on annexation

Brookhaven officials are making final preparations for nextweek’s initial court hearing on the city’s request to annex morethan 16.5 miles of the county.

Aldermen met Thursday night with City Attorney Joe Fernald inexecutive session to discuss the pending legal action. The boardtook no action following the approximately one-hour closed doormeeting.

A hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. in LincolnCounty Chancery Court to hear the city’s petition for annexation.Objectors may come to the hearing, with or without an attorney, tovoice their opposition to the city’s plans.

“I expect a free and fair exchange of information, and we’ll gofrom there,” Fernald said. “That’s what the trial is allabout.”

Objections would postpone the actual annexation trial to a laterdate. When that date would be would depend on a variety of factors,such as discovery time needed, the court docket and the attorneys’and judge’s schedules.

According to demographic data about the annexation, theexpansion would increase the city’s land area from 7.3 square milesto 23.9 square miles.

In terms of population, the total would rise from the current9,861 to 13,198. In racial breakdown, the city is currently 47.6percent white and 51.4 black; if annexation is approved, thepercentages would be 48.7 percent white and 50.2 percent black.

Mayor Bill Godbold was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting dueto illness, and Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron was absent due to adoctor’s appointment. Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson wasalso not present.

Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates, the mayor pro tem, presided at lastnight’s meeting.

Several aldermen were uncertain whether they would attendTuesday’s hearing. Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith said the board memberswould be little more than “spectators” if they do go.

“I may want to go and listen, or it may be better for me to stayaway,” Smith said.

Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allen said he hoped to be ableto attend. He said he did not know what to expect as far as how thehearing will proceed.

“People have a right to object and that’s the way this thing’sset up,” Allen said.