Lee County won’t fight annexation

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Lee County will end its long legal battle against the city of Tupelo’s annexation, paving the way for the plan to take effect Aug. 12.
After a closed-door meeting with their attorney Monday morning, Lee County supervisors unanimously decided to halt further legal action. The move comes less than a week after the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision approving the annexation.
“After talking with our counsel and other objectors’ counsels, we unanimously believed it would be in our best interest for all of Lee County that we do not further pursue Tupelo’s annexation,” said Board of Supervisors President Phil Morgan after the meeting.
Saltillo and Plantersville also had opposed the annexation, and its attorneys fought alongside those from Lee County in a weeks-long Chancery Court trial in 2010.
The trial ended in victory for Tupelo, but opponents immediately filed an appeal that has wound its way through the high court for nearly two years. With the decision upheld, the only legal recourse would be to file a motion to reconsider, said Saltillo attorney Jason Herring.
Herring declined to say whether Saltillo would consider such a move until after meeting with its mayor and Board of Alderman later today.
Plantersville attorney Jason Shelton said Monday the town had no plans to continue the court fight.
Barring any last-minute motion by Saltillo, Tupelo will grow by approximately 16 square miles and some 2,500 residents when the plan takes effect next week.
Tupelo’s new residents will immediately receive increased police and fire protection, land use protection, twice-a-week garbage pick-up and recycling opportunities.
Other services like street lights, improved streets and sewer service to the areas that don’t have those services will take longer to implement. In addition, the new residents will be eligible to vote in city elections as soon as the decision is final.
But residents in the expanded areas also will be subject to city taxes, codes and ordinances – a fact that had irked numerous people who argued they’d moved to the county to avoid such regulations.
“We fought the good fight,” said District 4 Supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy. “It’s over.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com