Opponents line up for annexation fight
By Philip Moulden
Opponents continued to line up against Tupelo’s annexation proposal as the initial hearing approaches next week.
Plantersville, Shannon and Verona filed formal protests this week against the expansion effort in Lee County Chancery Court. The three lie south of Tupelo and their emphasis seemed focused on Carr Vista, a subdivision southeast of Verona that is included in the city’s plan.
All the objectors also filed counterclaims asking that Tupelo pay their attorney fees.
Tupelo is seeking to add about 18 square miles of territory lying on all sides of the city. The city last annexed in 1989.
The initial court hearing on the proposal is scheduled Wednesday.
Municipal opponents contended Tupelo has no justifiable need to expand and claimed “the main purpose of the annexation is to prevent neighboring cities from expanding in the future … toward Tupelo … and this is unreasonable.”
They also warned the court that the expansion’s effect on protected minorities “is unknown” and of potential concern, and that the annexation would “have an adverse effect” on residents and property owners in the target areas.
They also contended a “natural barrier” – the city of Verona – stood between Tupelo and its annexation target, apparently referring to Carr Vista.
The proposal is “not required by public necessity … and not in the best interests of the town of Plantersville, the city of Tupelo or residents, inhabitants or property owners of either municipality,” Plantersville’s complaint states.
Also filing a protest was a private group calling itself Concern Citizens of Carr Vista. The subdivision was not included in the administration’s final annexation recommendation, but was included by a 5-4 City Council vote. Prior to that vote, it appeared the administration would not be able to get a council majority on any annexation plan that omitted Carr Vista.
Lee County supervisors also voted this week to fight the annexation proposal.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Marshall said he was not surprised, at least by some of the opposition, but questioned contentions that those municipalities would be adversely affected by Tupelo’s growth.
“Certainly that’s a right that each of the municipalities has,” Marshall said of the objectors. “Our intention was not directed (at them) but was merely a pathway down to Carr Acres (Vista). Whatever the court rules, that’s fine with us.
“But I really find it very hard to believe that Shannon would be affected at all by the annexation,” Marshall said. “I believe they may have been led into it by some other folks.”
Shannon Mayor G.A. Herndon confirmed county officials and other municipalities had asked his town to join the opposition, but said town officials were also concerned about Tupelo moving too far south.
“Roughly half the (Tupelo) council members were against it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that we’re against it,” Herndon said.
Verona’s opposition could be expected, Marshall said, but added “that’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.” Verona currently has its own annexation proposal before the court.
While Verona’s plan doesn’t directly conflict with Tupelo’s, “It may be they want Carr Acres (Vista) sometime,” Marshall said.
Verona Mayor Billy Fred Wheeler said Carr Vista wasn’t his city’s objective, since it is not in Verona’s expansion plan. “It’s for our own growth,” he said of the city’s decision.
The Board of Aldermen of Saltillo, lying just north of Tupelo, is expected to decide Tuesday whether to oppose or ignore the annexation plan.
Officials in the other municipality named in the city’s suit, Sherman, have also not made a decision on a response, but they are not expected to fight the annexation effort.
“We don’t feel threatened by it at this time,” Mayor Terry Wood said.
Marshall said he expects Saltillo to stay out of the fray.
“We’ve always had a very good working relationship with Saltillo … on their annexations and our annexations,” he said. “(They) understand that municipalities must expand to grow. Consequently Saltillo is the other shining star in Lee County, growing by leaps and bounds.”