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franklin county times

Residents want no part of annexation

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
July 18, 2002
Melissa Wilson and her family moved out of Meridian more than a year ago, hoping to escape the fast pace of the city and enjoy lower property taxes.
The Wilsons bought a house on Old Country Club Road, off Highway 39 North in a secluded neighborhood in the Briarwood area.
Now, however, a proposal approved by the Meridian City Council would place Wilson and hundreds of other Lauderdale County residents back inside the city.
City council members voted unanimously Tuesday to begin procedures that could annex 11.8 square miles of county land north, east and west of Meridian's current boundaries.
Long process
Annexation procedures can take months or years to complete because they must be approved by a chancery court and frequently face an appeals process. But that hasn't stopped opponents from already complaining.
Meridian city leaders say the area is in the city's natural growth pattern. According to a preliminary demographic data sheet prepared by Bridge and Slaughter, the city's annexation consultants, the annexation would boost the city's population by about 1,500 people  85 percent of them white.
The area would take in 634 homes and 51 businesses whose current assessed value of $23.4 million would produce about $1.3 million in new revenue, according to Bridge and Slaughter.
The area includes Briarwood Country Club and several nearby residential areas such as the upscale Eagle Pointe subdivision.
It also includes a new industrial park along Interstate 20/59; the existing G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Industrial Park; and the Jaycees soccer complex on Old Eighth Street Road.
And it has drawn the ire of Malcolm Threatt, mayor of Marion the small town that lies just northeast of Meridian. Marion already is trying to annex some of the same areas.
Threatt's concerns
Threatt said he believes that Meridian officials are trying to surround his town, add new land and take tax money that might otherwise benefit Marion in the future.
Some residents have the same questions.
Anne Jellenc, 75, is retired and lives in Eagle Pointe. Jellenc said she was shocked to find out about the city's plans.
Lisa Grantham, another Eagle Pointe resident, said she moved away from the city six years ago after living there all her life. Grantham said she, too, opposes the annexation.
CLARIFICATION
Meridian's proposed annexation would take in 634 homes and 51 businesses whose current assessed value of $23.4 million would produce about $1.3 million in new revenue, according to consultants Bridge and Slaughter.

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