EDITORIAL: Moving forward

By NEMS Daily Journal

Chancellor Edward C. Prisock’s ruling late Monday in favor of Tupelo’s proposed annexation of more than 15 square miles of adjacent land should end the expensive, prolonged legal battle in opposition by the Lee County Board of Supervisors and some of the county’s other municipalities.
Prisock, who is a senior judge from Louisville, was named to hear the annexation case when chancellors sitting in Lee County recused themselves.
The decision, an expansive point-by-point explanation of the required standards, answered objections raised by attorneys representing the Board of Supervisors and others. The ruling says that Tupelo’s proposal meets the 12 indices used in case law formed by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Prisock ruled for Tupelo on each of its annexation requests except a portion of one – land south of West Main Street in Proposed Annexation Area 5. Prisock said that area does not appear to meet the standard related to potential commercial development that would have compellingly favored annexation.
Part of the area is along the incomplete route of the new Mississippi Highway 6 east of the Natchez Trace as it leads to the southern Tupelo city limits. Another annexation petition could be filed should that area develop and need the benefit of city services, zoning and protection.
Prisock, in the decision, offered an insightful summary of how and why he ruled for Tupelo:
“… The time spent in trial was long and tedious. The record seems very complete. It has been extremely helpful to the Court in gleaning from the case law a very extensive list of indicia, factors and guidelines. This has been helpful in removing the decision making process from the realm of the subjective to one that relies very heavily on objective data and information.”
Prisock also made clear that where existing land in the city is located and its potential for development factor in assessing the need to annex additional land.
Growth historically follows annexation, as has been the case – without Board of Supervisors opposition – in other Lee County municipalities. A strong, thriving Tupelo is inarguably necessary for all of Lee County to thrive.
Taxpayers funded the annexation process and the opposition. The cost in total is about $800,000.
A reasonable decision has been reached under law. Stop the legal fight. Rebuild unity, trust and countywide cooperation.
We must not compete against ourselves. The competition is outside Lee County.
A new decade and a new Census count are in sight. Lee County will be the second-most-populous county in northern Mississippi. We must unite in purpose to sustain the momentum and the opportunities in our growth.