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Aldermen eye new ind. park for annexation

With one annexation still pending, Brookhaven officials are nowlooking to add the new industrial park to the city limits.

In proposing the idea during Tuesday’s City Board meeting, MayorBob Massengill said taking in the 400-acre park should be a muchsimpler process.

“We can annex the new industrial park in short order,” the mayorsaid.

City, county and chamber officials last week acquired threesections of the park west of the city near Brookway Boulevard.Officials are expected to close on the two larger sections in acouple of weeks.

With no occupants in the park, Massengill said there would be noobjections to the city’s annexation request. Also, the costs oflegal process would be negligible, although the mayor said he wouldinform the board of the cost before proceeding.

“In the long run, it will be a great benefit to the city,”Massengill said about the park annexation, estimating the legalwork could be done in about half a day. “There’s no down side tous.”

In the city’s other annexation, officials and attorneys areawaiting the transcript from the late 2003-early 2004 trial.Following several extensions approved by the state Supreme Court,the new deadline for the transcript is June 27.

In the trial, a judge approved the annexation of 14.4 squaremiles on all sides of the city. Once the transcript is prepared,attorneys for the city and objectors will have time to review itbefore it goes to the state high court for action.

Also Tuesday, aldermen approved property tax abatement criteriafor developers who renovate downtown businesses and otherproperties. A state law allows for tax breaks on improvements forup to 10 years in central business districts.

The criteria approved last night involve the amount of theinvestment, the number of new jobs created and how much new salestax is anticipated as a result of the activity. Alderman at largeLes Bumgarner requested the sales tax provision as a way ofencouraging business development in downtown.

“We’re really looking for businesses,” Bumgarner said.

Massengill said the tax abatement plan will help ensure thedowntown area remains attractive and vital.

“As we all know, once downtown is lost, it is almost impossibleto get back,” Massengill said.

Officials indicated there is little risk to the city in theplan. The abatement would only be for the improvements, meaningdevelopers would still have to pay taxes on the land and thebuilding’s value as it was before the upgrade.

“You’re not going to lose any money,” said Ward Five AldermanTom Smith. “You’re going to gain a better piece of property.”

In other city action, Massengill said City Engineer Carl RayFurr was optimistic that funding for lighting of the Exit 40Interstate 55 interchange would be included in a federaltransportation bill this year. The mayor indicated the lightingproject, which has been long sought by some city leaders, could bedone in about a year.

“That’s not final yet, but we’re working toward getting thataccomplished,” Massengill said.

Officials also recognized Smith, who after eight years in officewas attending his last board meeting as Ward Five alderman.

Smith was described as a “hands-on” alderman who had the city’sfuture in mind during his decision-making. Officials said Smith wasa man of his word and people knew were he stood on issues.

“If he told you something, you could bank on it,” Massengillsaid. “And I appreciate that.”

Smith said he enjoyed working with the board and trying toimprove the city.

“Any decision I’ve made, I’ve tried to make for the bettermentof the city,” Smith said.

New Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell and returning city officialswill be sworn in July 1 during an 11 a.m. ceremony in the circuitcourtroom, said City Clerk Mike Jinks.