By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council decided Tuesday to accept responsibility for infrastructure upkeep in a private, gated community.
City Council members voted without an estimate of costs associated with bringing streets and a bridge up to current city standards in the high-dollar Summit development.
The agreement, reached with a 6-1 vote, also requires permanent removal of the gate at the Summit’s entrance. The subdivision, located near the South Green Street and Highway 45 intersection, has homes valued between $750,000 to $2 million.
Private status of Summit streets distinguished them from other streets included in the city of Tupelo’s 2012 annexation.
The state Supreme Court ruled as part of the annexation decision that all roads maintained by Lee County within annexed areas will receive maintenance from the city. However, private status of the gated community’s streets remained after annexation, requiring separate approval by the City Council to accept the infrastructure as public.
An engineer for the development, roughly a decade old, certified years ago the infrastructure as up to city standards but no recent engineering evaluation has determined current conditions.
Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell said taxpayers living in the Summit deserved to receive all city services provided to property owners with land along public streets.
“I believe the city has a moral responsibility to accept and maintain those streets,” Newell said. “This is a a high-end neighborhood and a lot tax revenue generates from those properties.”
Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan said he supported the city accepting responsibility for the Summit’s infrastructure after it reached existing city standards.
“This is just being good stewards of taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Mayor Jason Shelton said he preferred repairs to the streets and bridge before the council accepted them but would not issue a veto.