Thursday, June 2, 2011
Speaking out at city hall
By SUE WATSON
A number of residents of the West Woodward Avenue and Swaney Drive area continued to express concerns over the possibility that a new subdivision may be built on the old Holly Springs Country Club property.
Alvenice Brown, who lives near the area, thanked the board of aldermen for the opportunity to re-express her concerns. Primarily, she and others want to know on a frequent basis any movement on the proposed subdivision. It would provide homes to rent – a maximum of 101 single family units – with an option to purchase after 15 years.
“The biggest thing is lack of communication,” Brown said. “Where are we with that process?”
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said it would be July or August before any new information is available.
“Will the community be kept informed on the matters that concern us?” Brown asked.
DeBerry said the community will be made aware through the usual process of board actions but no one would be updated personally.
“So, we need to sit and let the ball fall?” Brown asked.
“There will be no notification to individual property owners on an individual basis, but there will be public notification,” DeBerry assured.
“Does this board have the final say, or what?” Brown asked.
“On the plat, yes,” said the mayor.
“So, on items of interest where would we go? Before the board as a whole? We want to know,” Brown said.
She aired two concerns. The first concern of the existing residents in the neighborhood is whether the proposed subdivision is good for the future of the children.
“We will be out of here in a few years,” Brown said.
She suggested the city should be pushing the first-time homebuyer program instead.
DeBerry said the city the last 10 years has offered the first-time homebuyer program.
“If we put a thrust behind that, buying is a better way to go than renting,” Brown said.
The second point she wanted to make was the issue of tax credits to developers of low-income housing. In Mississippi there has been a move to close a loophole that allows these individuals to not pay the full share of property tax.
The Mississippi Association of Supervisors and the Mississippi Municipal League have opposed continuing to allow these tax credits to developers, she said.
She said the two organizations have a lawsuit to stop these type projects because local governments are losing a lot of potential tax revenue.
Brown cited figures of revenue lost by DeSoto County at $620,000 and said the county has joined the MAS and MML in their lawsuit.
That figure is provided by an article in the Commercial Appeal that states that DeSoto County has lost millions because of this law passed in 2005. In 2009, the county lost $620,000, according to the article. Southaven was cited as losing $130,000 a year in tax revenues.
“Counties across Mississippi say high-density apartment owners are paying about one-third or less of what they should be paying in taxes without the law (Section 42 law, 2005),” wrote Henry Bailey in the Commercial Appeal report.
Sen. Bill Stone said legislators have had legislation every year to correct the problem but can’t get the legislation out of committee.
“We need to be thinking about these items as well,” Brown said. “I am willing to go back home and wait, but I hope when it comes before the council (board of aldermen), you will remember the people in the community do not want it.”
Alderman Russell Johnson advised Brown and others to remember that aldermen have home telephones and addresses and can be contacted anytime about the issues.
“Thank you,” said Brown.
Vernelle Winter, another homeowner in the area, asked to be heard.
“My daughter is feisty about this thing,” she said. “She said, ‘My mother is 72 years old. Would you want this across the street from your 72-year-old mother?’ ”
An official at the public hearing answered, “Frankly, ma’am, no.”
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