More objectors testify against annexation plan

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 21, 2003

Annexation trial proceedings ended on an emotional note Thursdayafternoon as a legal move by the city’s attorney upset the leadingopponent.

Attorney Jerry Mills interrupted annexation objector SandraGerald to request copies of notes she was using during hertestimony. Under court rules, the attorney was entitled to access,and testimony was paused to allow copies to be made.

Returning to the witness stand, Gerald was distracted overhaving to release her notes and had to stop several times whiletrying to answer questions from objectors’ attorney CarlisleHenderson. She said the notes contained personal information.

“Y’all did this on purpose,” Gerald told city attorneys as shestruggled to compose herself.

Special Chancellor John Ross ordered an early recess for the dayand said the trial would resume at 9 a.m. Friday.

Later, fellow objectors tried to console Gerald. She describedthe note request as another example of the city’s “whatever the lawallows” approach to the litigation.

“It’s not the only railroad running through town,” Gerald saidas she looked at train tracks from an upstairs window at thegovernment complex.

Mills said he was “truly sorry” for upsetting Gerald andregretted any ill feelings his action caused.

“She’s put a lot of effort into this, and I respect very muchthe work she’s done,” Mills said.

Mills defended his action as following trial rules. He said hewas not trying to get an unfair advantage and said most of theinformation in Gerald’s notes already had been furnished during thediscovery phase.

Gerald was the last of eight witnesses to testify Thursday.Seven others appeared pro se, or without legal representation,earlier in the day to discuss their feelings about the city’sannexation plans.

Several witnesses said they were satisfied with the level ofpolice, fire and garbage services they receive currently. Witnessesalso questioned the city’s ability to meet its annexationobligations.

“I don’t think I’ll receive the services I’m supposed toreceive,” said Sagewood resident Billy Crider. “I don’t think theycan do it.”

Under questioning from Mills, witnesses acknowledged they hadnot done any studies on the city’s ability to meet requirements.Mills also questioned Crider regarding the city’s ability toprovide a higher level of police and fire protection and whetherthe county resident would want that.

“I’d like to have what I’ve got,” Crider said. “To me, it’s thebest.”

Edna Calhoun, who lives south of Brookhaven Academy on BrookwayBoulevard Extension, discussed her son-in-law’s dairy operation onthe farm.

“We prefer to live out in the country,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun expressed concerns about a possible connector roadbetween the boulevard and Highway 84 that would go through herproperty. Annexation consultant Mike Slaughter testified earlierabout benefits of the new road from the standpoint of comprehensiveplanning and emergency access.

“In my opinion, it would take a lot to make a road throughthere,” said Calhoun, although admitting to Mills that she had noengineering expertise on the matter.

Brignall resident Helen Irvin testified about various freedoms,such as burning leaves and shooting fireworks, associated withliving outside the city. If annexed, she said a community store,which is currently not open, could be bought and allowed to sellbeer.

“I choose not to have beer sold at my front door,” Irvinsaid.

Mills questioned Irvin about zoning regulations and safetybenefits of living inside the city. Irvin said there could be somebenefits — if the city is able to follow through on itsobligations.

“I would expect, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I would get,”Irvin said.

Doris Winborne, whose family lives and operates a pest controlbusiness on Dale Trail, said she believed there are moredisadvantages than advantages to being annexed.

Winborne said the family uses a well for its water services. Shesaid Lincoln Rural Water Services did not run a water line alongher road because it was not feasible to serve a small number ofhomes.

“I figure that’s what the city’s going to do, too,” Winbornesaid.

Winborne also pointed out smells associated with living a shortdistance from the city’s sewer lagoon at the Waste Water TreatmentPlant.

“When the wind’s blowing from that direction, you don’t sitoutside because you can’t breathe,” she said.

Field Lark Lane resident Coleman Lea testified about 38 acres ofland he uses for farming. He also has several rental housing unitson the property and runs a small wholesale and retail fireworksbusiness.

“It’s a very quiet community,” Lea said.

Lea discussed some problems with city sewer lines crossing hisproperty and, because of the lines, had lost two of three pondsthat had been used as a water supply for his cattle. Although hewas not mad at anyone, Lea said he felt mistreated by the city whenhe tried to get the problems fixed.

When questioning Lea, Mills pointed out the multiple uses ofLea’s land that were a result of no zoning in the county. Citingnearby apartment complexes and a paving construction business,Mills’ questions disputed a characterization of the Field Lark Lanearea as rural.

Objectors were to continue presenting their case Friday. Geraldand urban planner Kathy Garner were among witnesses to be called inthe trial that will go into next week.