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Consultant discusses need for city annexation

An annexation consultant began putting pieces of the Brookhavenexpansion puzzle together Thursday as the city moved towardwrapping up its portion of the trial in Lincoln County ChanceryCourt.

Following earlier testimony from department heads and other citywitnesses, consultant Mike Slaughter took the witness stand toassemble an overall picture within the context of 12 indicia ofreasonableness. The indicia, which must be proven by the city inorder to expand, involve path of growth, zoning needs, minorityvoting concerns and other factors.

Slaughter’s testimony Thursday focused on the city’s need forexpansion, potential health hazards and financial ability toprovide services in the annexed area. The consultant was expectedto discuss other indicia Friday and then be cross-examined byobjectors’ attorneys next week.

In discussing the need for expansion, Slaughter citedresidential development on the fringes of the current city and”substantial” commercial development inside. Evidence included anumber of photographs of recently-completed business projects andothers under way.

“In my opinion, I have no doubt the city of Brookhaven does needto expand,” Slaughter said.

Regarding potential health hazards, photographic evidence showedimproper disposal of solid waste in several areas just outside thecity limits. Referring to old tires seen in some pictures, theconsultant mentioned concerns about mosquito breeding grounds andother potential dangers.

“It would definitely be a danger to the environment,” Slaughtersaid.

Slaughter touted the city’s trash pick up as beneficial for theannexation area. Inside the current city, he said pick up is notinstantaneous, but the debris does not sit for weeks or months asit has done in the county.

Following up testimony from a state health department official,Slaughter discussed the benefits of the city providing water andsewer services in the annexed areas. Earlier testimony pointed outhealth concerns over raw sewage, which could be addressed with acentralized collection system.

“Phase One, which is going to be done in the first five years(after annexation), will go a long way toward eliminating theproblems,” Slaughter said.

Phase One, which the city has committed to doing should theannexation be approved, involves over $14 million in water andsewer system work.

Phase Two involves additional work which may or may not be donein the first five years after annexation. Slaughter said the waterand sewer plan is flexible to allow additional work to be done ifneeded.

Slaughter said residents would not be charged for water andsewer services if they are not on the city’s system.

“You won’t get a monthly bill for that service you’re notusing,” Slaughter said.