Annexation ruling not likely before summer ’07

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 4, 2006

City Attorney Joe Fernald Tuesday reported some progress inBrookhaven’s annexation case, but added that a final decisionlikely is still more than a year away.

Following reviews by the city’s attorneys and those representingobjectors, the record from the late 2003-early 2004 annexationtrial is expected to be certified soon, Fernald said during lastnight’s board of aldermen meeting. The court record was submittedlast summer for the attorneys’ review.

“The record is well over 2,000 pages,” Fernald said.

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Once the record is formally submitted to the state SupremeCourt, a briefing schedule on how the case will proceed can be set,Fernald said.

Citing the potential for continuances and other delays, Fernaldestimated it would be summer or fall 2007 before a final decisionis made.

Following the trial, a judge approved the annexation of 14.4square miles on all sides of the city.

The ruling would allow the city to more than triple its currentsize and increase the population from 9,861 to 12,964, according todemographic data on the expansion. Objectors contend there is nojustification for allowing the annexation of some areas.

In other business during last night’s rather routine meeting,aldermen heard from attorneys Brad Boerner and Carlisle Henderson,who are seeking to become city prosecutor for Municipal Court. Bothattorneys touted their experience and said serving as cityprosecutor would be a way of helping the community.

With Alderman at large Les Bumgarner unable to attend themeeting, aldermen delayed a decision until the full board could bepresent. Either Boerner or Henderson will succeed Raymond Boutwell,who is leaving to devote more time to his private law practice.

Also Tuesday, the board rejected a request from former Ward FiveAlderman Denver Anding for the city to install water and sewerlines for lots he is trying to sell on Dora Street. Anding hadproposed to purchase the approximately $7,800 for materials if thecity would cover the estimated $4,400 labor expense.

City officials voiced concerns over the precedent the approvalwould set and the potential for many others coming to the boardwith similar requests.

“That would open a Pandora’s Box,” Fernald said.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell was the lone vote in support ofthe request. He said water and sewer is one way the city can showit helps residents when questions about paying taxes areraised.

With the first meeting of the new year, aldermen were asked toconsider priorities in several areas. Those included decisions onproposed sewer projects as well as ward and citywide goals for thenext four years.

“We need to begin getting our ducks in a row on our sewerprojects,” said Mayor Bob Massengill.

At their last meeting, aldermen discussed proposed projects thatwould use an expected $2.7 million in federal and local funds toaddress sewer issues around the city. Massengill asked aldermen tobe ready to decide at the Jan.17 meeting.

Prior to that meeting, aldermen also planned a work session todiscuss their citywide priorities for the current term.

Based on lists submitted by the board, Massengill last nighthanded out lists with the proposals divided into categories. Thefirst category was projects that are done or are well under way;the second category was no-cost priorities and the third waspriorities that will cost money.

Massengill also reported optimism regarding a MississippiEmergency Management Agency project to purchase homes inflood-prone areas on Center Street and Saint George Street.

“I feel we’re going to be funded,” said Massengill, althoughadding he had not seen that in writing.

In the program, which is available on a 75 percent state and 25percent local match basis, the homes would be bought for theirappraised values and the land not used again. It would allow thehomeowners to get out of a bad situation, officials have said.

Aldermen approved Massengill proceeding with surveys and otherwork once funding confirmation is received. The project involvesfive homes.