Tupelo annex trial set for March

TUPELO – A judge Monday set Tupelo’s annexation trial for March 29 after rejecting requests by Lee County and Saltillo to dismiss the case on technicalities.
Judge Edward C. Prisock overruled the motions during a two-hour hearing at Lee County Chancery Court.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.
Opponents of Tupelo’s annexation bid had argued the court lost jurisdiction over the case because too much time had passed since the last court hearing one year ago. They also contend Tupelo’s City Council should have voted to pursue a new annexation attempt after the previous one failed in court.
Tupelo attorneys had voluntarily withdrew their annexation bid in September 2008 due to a minor technicality but filed anew immediately thereafter. The city seeks to absorb more than 16 square miles and some 3,000 residents from the county.
“The judge overruled both of thoseamp” arguments, said Saltillo attorney Jason Herring. “So we’ll start preparing for trial.”
But Herring said those matters aren’t dead; they could come up in an eventual appeal.
County attorney Gary Carnathan wasn’t immediately available for comment.
After the hearing, Tupelo attorney Guy Mitchell said he was “delighted” with the judge’s decision.
“We look forward to beginning the trial on the merits,” he said.
The city launched its annexation attempts in August 2004, seeking to enlarge its boundaries by roughly 10 square miles, but the case was dismissed two years later due to technical errors by Tupelo.
The city revived its efforts in March 2008, this time seeking to grow by about 16 square miles. That attempt, too, was dismissed because of Tupelo’s technical issues.
But the city immediately filed a third petition to annex, in September 2008, and a hearing was held a month later.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal