Fawn Grove annexed?

By ADAM ARMOUR
Staff Writer

The Town of Mantachie is looking to expand its borders into the Fawn Grove area.

Members of Mantachie’s board of aldermen are currently discussing their plans to annex the Fawn Grove area, making it an official part of the city. If completed, the annexation would add approximately 100 residents living on Fawn Grove Road to the town’s population.

If the expansion comes to pass, it will be the first for the town since the incorporation of the Centerville area approximately 10 years ago.

It’s a topic that’s sure to stir some controversy, but the decision to pursue the incorporation of Fawn Grove has been on the minds of Mantachie’s aldermen since August of last year, just prior to the announcement of Toyota Boshoku’s Itawamba County plant.

“With our already having a sewer lagoon, all we would have to do is run a pipeline from our lagoon to Toyota Boshoku’s plant,” Mayor Jeff Butler said. He explained that county administrator Gary Franks, a Fawn Grove resident himself, approached the town about providing Toyota Boshoku with sewer services before the company had announced it was building a plant in Itawamba County. The board agreed to the proposal, which will require that sewer lines be run from Mantachie, through Fawn Grove and into the Dorsey area, where the plant will be located. According to Butler, it just made sense to offer the people of Fawn Grove the town’s services.

“From a feasibility standpoint, since we’re already going to be running a sewer line down there, it won’t be overly expensive to go ahead and offer the other people along the road city sewer [services],” he said, adding that incorporation would provide the people of Fawn Grove more than just septic tank separation. “Once you incorporate an area, the state government says that you have a reasonable amount of time to provide services to that area, such as water, sewer and police protection.”

Butler added that the town has no city tax, so the cost of living won’t increase for residents of Fawn Grove who become part of the town.

“Their property values will increase, however,” Butler added. He said the exact area of the annexation is still under consideration.

According to the mayor, the incorporation process is lengthy, taking about a year at minimum. After accepting an annexation plan, the town will hold a public hearing to give residents of both Mantachie and Fawn Grove a chance to express their opinions on the matter. Butler commented this would be a crucial time for the project.

“We want to have a time when we can express what we can offer [the people of Fawn Grove] and let them vent their opinions and ask questions,” Butler said. Afterwards, the town will have to submit their plans to the state capital and await approval.

The town will benefit from this expansion by being able to incorporate any businesses that may open in the area. Butler asserts that there is a strong possibility the area will blossom once Toyota Boshoku opens its doors and hopefully provide the town with an increase of the sales tax on which it operates.

“There will be different things that will pop up in that area, and that’s what we’re really after,” Butler said. “We would like for Mantachie to never have a city tax. We would like to be able to operate entirely off our sales tax for as long as we can … The way to do that is to get businesses incorporated within the city limits.”

Although the mayor said he expects there will be some opposition to the move, he believes, in the end, most residents of both Mantachie and Fawn Grove will see the change as a benefit to both. Looking ahead, however, there’s still a long way to go before anything is set in stone.

“It’s not an easy process; it’s not a done process,” Butler said. “It may work out that we can’t incorporate the area. We don’t know that. It’s just a process you go through, and if the people in the area agree to it; if it passes at Jackson, that’s good.

“I feel like it’s going to be all right,” he continued. “The longer this is out there — the longer it’s thought about and talked about — I think people will be more willing to accept it.” xxx