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City seeks new territory, taxes

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
July 17, 2002
Posh residential communities, one county school, a country club and two industrial parks would become part of the city of Meridian under an annexation proposal adopted Tuesday by the city council.
The move if it's approved by the Lauderdale County Chancery Court and survives any subsequent legal challenges would boost the city's population by 1,500 people and add $23.4 million in new tax collections to city coffers.
The proposal takes in territory north, west and east of Meridian, including Briarwood Country Club and nearby residential communities, such as Eagle Pointe; a new industrial park along I20/59 and the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Industrial Park; Northeast High School; the Jaycees soccer complex on Old Eighth Street Road; and other areas.
The city's population, which showed a decline in the 2000 Census, would rise to 41,481 from 39,968.
Mayor John Robert Smith said the annexation is the second phase of an process launched in 1994 with the annexation of the Bonita area. He said the proposed annexed areas follow natural growth patterns near Meridian.
The new round of annexation stems from a 1994 ruling by the state Supreme Court saying Meridian's annexation efforts should come in phases, rather than the sweeping 50 square miles proposed at the time. That year, the city annexed the Bonita area.
Next step
Next, the Oxford law firm Bridge &Slaughter LLC hired as specialists in annexation work is expected to file a petition in Lauderdale County Chancery Court within next 10 days to begin the process. The court could then set a hearing on the matter 30 days after the petition is filed.
If approved as proposed, the city's move would include areas east of Highway 39 North and south of Briarwood Road, north of Old Country Club Road, north of Highway 11 to Marion, and south of Highway 11 to areas north of Highway 19, including the Montgomery industrial park.
School districts not affected
Even though the proposed annexation takes in Northeast High School and a piece of the district served by Southeast, neither school taxes nor county school district lines would change.
Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas said it was important to the council that school districts were not affected.
Smith said he expects lots of questions from affected people.