The current city boundaries are shown in green and the annexation study area is shown in salmon color. Map was produced by Slaughter and Associates of Oxford.

City launches annexation study

Mike Slaughter, an urban planning consultant of Oxford, recently presented an overview of a study that will take place to determine whether Holly Springs should annex property outside the current city limits.

Before reviewing the process, Mayor Kelvin Buck made prefacing remarks, “to get started off on the right foot on annexation.”

“At this point we are at a study and fact-finding phase,” he said. “If it makes sense, we will consider it. If not, we will not consider it. Keep an open mind about annexation.”

Buck said the annexation study does not mean the city is making a land grab or in any way competing with the county. He said the county and city are working together on an Opportunity Zone grant, with several tracts of land under consideration. Washington, D.C., and the state determines eligibility for Opportunity Zones, he said.

Also, Springs Industrial Park is a 3,000-acre site that includes areas both in the county and in the city boundaries.

Buck said with I-22 coming right through the Springs Industrial Park, there is a golden opportunity for the future growth of both the city and the county.

Also, the city and county jointly operate and own the airport.

“Expansion at the airport is important to our future development,” Buck said.

Next, Holly Springs is the county seat of Marshall County. Housing development is pushing outside the city into the county.

Certain tourist attractions, such as Kirkwood National, Holly Springs Motorsports and Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, are shared by the  county and city.

An upgrade to Salem Bridge will also promote growth in industrial parks.

Gov. Phil Bryant has made a number of trips to Marshall County to embrace and encourage commercial and industrial growth and has committed himself to continuing that interest in the area.

Finally, the City of Holly Springs already has a Level 5 fire protection district. If the city does expand its boundaries, the fire protection will automatically be a Level 5 in the annexed areas.

Buck said it is the duty of this administration to look ahead to the welfare of future generations.

“Some things require us to do things now so future growth will take place,” he said. “Think about the future. This is not a land grab. It is an attempt to coordinate with the county to be prepared to be a full participant in that growth.”

In a PowerPoint presentation, Slaughter discussed Phase I and Phase II studies that must take place before making a recommendation to the board of aldermen on any future annexation move.

Phase I would study existing land use, assessed value and ad valorem. Phase II will look at water and sewer to determine any portion that is feasible for this study.

Slaughter said there are legal requirements for the process and there is a chancery court process to prove that annexation is reasonable for all involved.

He presented information regarding the following:

• an existing city area and the proposed annexation study area which includes Spring Industrial Park.

• an existing land use survey map.

• all annexed areas would become a level 5 fire rating immediately. Several additional stations would be needed to make all annexed areas within five miles of a station. One station would be needed to the south to cover Kirkwood, and one to the I-22 and 178 area to the west. A fire hydrant must be  located within 1,000 feet of any structure.

• annexation will not change school districts in the annexed areas or impact school taxes or where you pay school taxes.

• water and sewer certificated areas and infrastructure will be important for future industrial/commercial growth.

• the demographics – population, number of single family dwellings, racial com­po­sition, would not substantially change following annexation.

• land area would increase from 12.8 square miles to 34 square miles after annexation.

• some areas in the annexation map can be taken out before the study is complete. Phase I and II can be modified before the plan is brought to a vote. The city can elect to proceed with the entire annexation study area, take in just a portion of the study area, or do nothing.

• fire and police responsibility would increase immediately.

Alderman Mark Miller remarked that there could be a large increase in the cost to provide services and maintenance of roads immediately without added revenues to cover the cost of expanded services. He also said the plan should benefit both the city and county and both parties need to agree that it is a good fit.

Alderman Lennell Lucas asked if annexation would encourage new development.

Slaughter said it should encourage economic development once water and sewer infrastructure is laid.

Alderman Bernita Fountain Lowe asked where the new boundary would be from the existing city limits on Highway 7 North.

Slaughter said the new boundary would be about a mile north of the existing city limits.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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