City IDs its annexation witnesses

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

The City of Brookhaven has identified its expert witnesses for aNovember annexation trial as objectors continue to seek funds tohire an attorney and expert of their own.

“We’re still trying to raise the money,” said Sandra Gerald, oneof more than 100 individuals or families who have signed up asobjectors to the city’s annexation plan. “We’re having people bringus money daily, and (others) telling us they’re going to give.”

Following a meeting last Thursday, objectors are trying to raise$10,000 to $15,000 to hire an attorney and planning consultant forthe trial that is scheduled for Nov. 5 before special chancellorJohn Ross. Gerald said the group still has a way to go in thefund-raising, but she was hopeful the contributions wouldcontinue.

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“We’re waiting on the money before we do any hiring,” saidGerald, adding that some funds are coming in anonymously. “We’rereceptive to that as well.”

The city’s annexation consultants and several department headsare among expert witnesses designated by attorneys for thetrial.

According to the trial scheduling order, the deadline for thewitness designation was Monday. The list did not arrive in theLincoln County Chancery Clerk’s Office until Thursday, but thecover letter from Jerry Mills, the city’s annexation attorney, wasdated Monday.

“We wouldn’t miss a deadline like that,” said City Attorney JoeFernald.

According to the court document, designated witnesses and theirareas of expertise include:

* Michael Bridge, Michael Slaughter and Christopher Watson -urban and regional planning.

* Larry Carr – fire rating classification.

* Carl Ray Furr – civil engineering and urban planning.

* Butch Lambert – solid waste.

* Demery Grubbs – municipal finance.

* Verbalee Watts – financial matters.

* Gene Herrin and Jim Weston – health issues.

City department heads identified include:

* Police Chief Pap Henderson.

* Fire Chief Paul Cartwright.

* Water department Superintendent Lanny Dickey.

* Building Inspector Steve Moreton.

* Traffic and Sign Control Supervisor Jimmy Furlow.

* Street department Superintendent James Griffin.

* Solid waste supervisors James Arnold and Willie Smith.

During the trial, the city will have to prove 12 indicia ofreasonableness why the annexation should be granted. Thoseinclude:

* The city’s need to annex.

* Showing a need for city services in the proposed annexationarea

* The city’s ability to provide those services where “necessaryand economically feasible” within an acceptable timeframe, usuallyfive years.

* City path of growth considerations.

* Need for planning and zoning in the proposed annexationarea.

* Natural barriers that may exist between the existing city andannexation area.

* No adverse impact on protected minority voting strength.

* Impact on residents in the annexation area.

* Past city performance with annexations.

* Need for protection from health hazards.

* “Fair share” issues related to citizens benefiting from cityservices while living outside the city limits.

* Any other factors impacting the reasonableness of anannexation request.

According to the trial scheduling order, objectors have untilAug. 18 to designate their expert witnesses. Evidence discovery isto be completed by Sept. 2 and a pre-trial conference is scheduledfor Oct. 15.

Attorneys and court officials expect the annexation trial tolast about two weeks.