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Objectors given more time for annex. decision

The Citizens Against Annexation have been granted an additional14 days from the day of their filing to file a request forrehearing, but city officials said they will strongly challenge anyrequests for additional extensions.

T. Jackson Lyons, attorney for the Citizens Against Annexation,said his group feels there could be adequate grounds for filing themotion for rehearing.

“There’s a logical discontinuity in the opinion that issignificant and should be drawn to the court’s attention,” he said.”There were only eight justices participating, as Justice Cobbrecused herself, and one dissented. Three of them concurred in theresult only, and there was a plurality of four justices that joinedthe rationale, so it’s only a plurality opinion.”

City Attorney Joe Fernald was not surprised the extension wasgranted, saying it was a usual occurrence in situations likeannexation. However, he indicated the city would move to preventany future requests by objectors for more time.

“We’re taking whatever legal steps we can to tell them this isnot justified,” Fernald said.

Fernald said the opinion seemed to point strongly to the factthat the Citizens Against Annexation didn’t have sufficient reasonto challenge the ruling.

“Given the nature of the ruling, I don’t know what grounds theythink they have for a rehearing,” he said. “The motion has to statethe grounds under which the rehearing is justified, and I justdon’t think they have any.”

Lyons said his group concedes that there are areas that do needto be annexed by the city.

“If you look at a map you’ll see the streets coming out ofBrookhaven into the county that are simply continuations of citystreets,” he said. “Those areas probably should have been taken insome time ago. My parties don’t really contest that there are edgesof the city that need to be taken in.”

The issue, according to Lyons, is whether or not the entireannexation area will actually urbanize in the next 10-15 years.

“Under Mississippi law, cities don’t have to prove every squareinch is somehow reasonable to incorporate, but they do have toprove the entirety is annexable,” said Lyons. “The problem is thatBrookhaven is such a slow-growing area that in the next 10 years,unless there’s some reason to believe that Brookhaven is going toradically accelerate its growth, all this area may not benecessary.”

Lyons said that even though the Citizens Against Annexation didreceive the extension for filing a rehearing motion, they are stillundecided about whether they will actually request a rehearing.There are currently around 250 people involved with opposing theannexation.

“Even if you reduced that to the relative handful ofparticularly active members, it’s still a number of people andthey’ve got to figure out whether they want to do this and if it’sworthwhile,” said Lyons.

Lyons did say, however, that based on the precedents, rehearingmotions are not usually granted.

“The probability of success on rehearing is limited,” he said,adding the Supreme Court has already done all the groundwork and isnot likely to rehash it.

He also said that it’s usual procedure for a panel of threeprimary justices to look over an initial brief. Thus, requesting arehearing is a good way to bring closer scrutiny by the entirecourt.

“A request for rehearing is a good way to get all the chambersto look at it,” he said. “It’s the only time on rehearing where youreally do get detailed consideration by all nine justices.”