Opponents ponder annexation appeal

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 6, 2004

Objectors to Brookhaven’s annexation Wednesday expresseddisappointment with the court’s ruling and questioned why moreareas were not excluded from the approved expansion.

Field Lark Lane resident Sandra Gerald, who helped organize morethan 200 objectors, said she was not surprised the annexation wasapproved. However, she was disappointed for those scheduled to bebrought into the city.

“I expected them to not get as much as they got,” Gerald saidabout the city request.

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With the exception of territory west of Interstate 55. SpecialChancellor John C. Ross Jr. Tuesday approved most of the city’srequested 16.6 square-mile area. An individual landowner’s propertyin the northeastern portion of the annexation area also wasexcluded.

Gerald said there was strong trial testimony from some objectorsthat they not be included. She mentioned farm land in thesoutheastern portion of the annexation area and “swamp land” southof Highway 84.

Richard Wright is the third generation to occupy some of thefarm land in County Farm Road area that was included.

“I fought the thing the whole time,” said Wright, who wasanother objector who testified during the trial last year andearlier this year.

Wright said there several hundred acres of farm land, but only afew families, around him. He also pointed that the part of the areais in a flood plain, which would make it difficult to develop.

Wright said he was not against growth, but an area should beallowed to develop before it is annexed. He said the court rulingwas “one man’s opinion.”

“I sure didn’t agree with him, I can tell you that,” Wrightsaid.

Gerald said objectors are considering the possibility of anappeal.

“There’s a lot of people who want to appeal it,” Gerald said.”We are looking into the cost.”

Gerald said she had some personal reservations that an appealwould only be “buying time” until they eventually are annexed.Also, she wondered that an appeal may not be the city’s bestinterests to continue to spend money on annexation instead of forproviding services to the new area.

“It’s not going to be only us spending money,” Gerald said.

Regarding other aspects of the court ruling, Gerald took issuewith a health department environmental specialist’s testimony that75 percent of sewer systems in the annexation area were failing.She pointed out the judge’s comments that a situation at BrookhavenAcademy, which was excluded from the annexation, was not as bad astestimony indicated.

“If that was the worst, then the others may not be as bad,either,” Gerald said.

Potential health hazards and the city’s ability to provideremedies was on of 12 indicia of reasonableness the judgeconsidered in whether to grant an annexation. In his ruling, Rosssaid Interstate 55 was a barrier to the city’s being able toprovide services to areas to the west, and that some areas were notincluded in the city’s initial five-year water and sewer plan.

Gerald said she was proud for those who were excluded from theannexation. However, she just wished that more could have been aswell.

“There are justifications for all of us (to have beenexcluded),” Gerald said.

In challenging the annexation, Gerald said she was not againstcity.

However, she did question the size of the area sought forannexation. The full 16.6-square mile area would have more thantripled the city’s current size.

“I didn’t think that was what Brookhaven needed,” Geraldsaid.

Helen Irving, who lives in Brignall, said she was “verydisappointed” with the annexation ruling. She raised doubts aboutthe city’s being able to meet its five-year time table forproviding services to the newly-annexed areas.

“I don’t feel like the city is taking care of all she alreadyhas,” Irving said. “I don’t believe they’re going to be able totake care of us.”

Gerald said she has been asked frequently about the annexationwhile out in public. The comments indicated to her that the will ofthe people was not served.

“There’s a lot of upset people,” Gerald said.

Gerald said there is a flaw in the law regarding how annexationcases are handled. She said citizens should be allowed to vote.

“The legislature needs to change that,” Gerald said.