More objectors get their say on annexation

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

The resumption of Brookhaven’s annexation trial featured a “prose day” Wednesday as several witnesses spoke about their objectionsto the city’s expansion plans.

Pro se means appearing in court without legalrepresentation.

“I’m opposed to annexation of this property, and I have beenever since they’ve been talking about it,” said Richard Wright, whohas a cattle operation on County Farm Road.

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Wright said the land had been in his family for years and thereare no plans to sell it. Only about six families live on the road,and he questioned why the city would need to take such in a largearea of land with so few people.

Wright also praised the Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Department andcounty law enforcement.

“I feel well-protected where I am,” Wright said.

In all, four objectors spoke during the Wednesday morning trialsession. Lakewood Village resident Gary Wilson, a witness who hadtestified earlier in the trial, was not allowed to retake the standafter a city objection was sustained by Special Chancellor JohnRoss.

In the trial, the city is asking to annex more than 16 squaremiles of territory. However, more than 200 objectors havechallenged the city’s ability to meet expansion-relatedobligations.

Several objectors Wednesday discussed their concerns about cityrestrictions on agricultural activities, such as cattle or timberfarming, and other freedoms, such as fireworks. The alleged needfor city services in the proposed annexation area and city handlingof its current area were also questioned.

“I don’t need or want the city water. I don’t need or want thecity sewage,” said Weed Lane resident Pat Dunn.

With the condition of streets and other city services, Dunnindicated that the city cannot justify taking in moreterritory.

“I feel like the city has not properly taken care of what theyhave now,” she said.

Dunn said she believed the city had nothing to offer butrestrictions. She also said the higher taxes would create hardshipsfor people on fixed incomes.

Dunn acknowledged that higher taxes is not a reason for opposingannexation. However, she said the city’s purpose in wanting toannex is getting more revenue.

“That doesn’t seem like that’s right, either,” Dunn said.

City annexation attorney Jerry Mills and objectors attorneyJerry Evans each tried to score their respective points afterDreamy Lane resident Velma Taylor voiced concerns about carjunkyards on nearby South First Street outside the city.

Evans pointed out the junkyards, if annexed, would be”grandfathered” and that the city would not have any authority toget rid of them. Mills countered that city zoning ordinances wouldprohibit more from developing.

“If I have to choose between junkyards and being in the city, Ivote to stay in the county,” said Taylor, prompting a round oflaughter in the courtroom.

Wednesday’s testimony concluded shortly before noon.

The trial could not proceed because objectors’ urban planningexpert Kathy Garner, who was on the witness stand when the trialrecessed Nov. 25, could not be in court Wednesday. She was expectedto continue her testimony Thursday and then the city could callrebuttal witnesses.

Attorneys and court officials are hoping to conclude the trialFriday, although a Saturday day of court is also a possibility.

“We do intend to finish this case this week,” Ross said.