Annexation judge wants to hear public comment

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Anyone opposing or supporting Tupelo’s annexation bid will get an open forum Monday at Lee County Chancery Court.
Judge Edward C. Prisock has set aside the entire day to hear citizens’ opinions on the city’s growth plan. Tupelo wants to take in 16.15 square miles of unincorporated land from six different areas ringing the city.
The move is opposed by Lee County, and the cities of Plantersville and Saltillo, whose attorneys are fighting the annexation in court. Trial started March 29 and is expected to last six weeks.
“I would encourage anyone and all to come and be accounted for,” said Darrell Rankin, president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. “The judge is looking for opinions – those who oppose it, those who are for it. I would encourage them to come and be there.”
People wanting to testify should appear in the courtroom at 9:30 a.m. Monday. It’s located on the third floor of the Lee County Justice Center. Depending on the number of people who speak, the citizen portion of the trial could extend into Tuesday.
“Just show up,” said Guy Mitchell, who is leading Tupelo’s legal team. “That’s the difference in annexation and other proceedings.”
Some of areas targeted for annexation are undeveloped, but not all. Within these territories are 26 businesses, 20 subdivisions and 2,800 residents.
The city’s last successful annexation was in 1989 when it nearly doubled its size by pushing out its borders from all directions.
Now Tupelo officials say they needs growth to stay viable and claim the proposed areas already are within the city’s natural path of development.
Opponents argue annexation will cut into county revenues and raise taxes for those within the targeted areas. They also claim the city doesn’t really need the land.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.