Consultant Mike Slaughter talks to aldermen about proposed study areas for the city's annexation study during a Friday work session at Starkville City Hall. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
November 18, 2017 10:35:49 PM
Aldermen will consider setting study areas for the city's possible annexation Tuesday, after seeing preliminary areas during a Friday afternoon work session.
Consultant Mitch Slaughter, of Oxford-based planning firm Slaughter and Associates, returned to the board to present a general overview of the areas his firm identified as possible targets for annexation.
The areas, highlighted in pink on a map that showed Starkville's current territory in green, primarily stretched the city's borders east, past Mississippi State University and along a section of Highway 82. The proposed study area also brings in some territory to the south on the city's eastern side, as well as in the southwest, along Highway 12 to include the residential area around Horseshoe Circle. A small block of land is also included to the city's north, to bring Collier Road, part of which juts out beyond city limits, fully into Starkville.
Slaughter said the suggested areas are only to choose areas to focus the annexation study on as it moves forward. They're not a commitment from the city to expand to those areas, and he said aldermen can adjust the study areas as the process moves ahead.
He added the selected areas were based on input from Mayor Lynn Spruill to get local thoughts on annexation, as well as trying to bring in a mix of already developed land and areas with potential for further growth.
"I like to have a good balance where there's existing development as well as room for growth, for both residential and commercial development," Slaughter said. "I think this accomplishes that."
Aldermen approved the annexation study in early October on a 4-2 vote, with Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins opposing. Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn was absent from that meeting.
Spruill, who brought the matter before aldermen, has said the city should consider expanding east to capture businesses such as Starkville Ford and the apartment complexes along Blackjack Road and east of Mississippi State University.
The study will be conducted in two phases, the first of which will cost $6,000 to $8,000, and the second of which will cost $5,000 to $7,000.
Setting the study areas is just the first step of the study's first phase, Slaughter said Friday.
"In our first phase we'll do the demographic analysis -- the total population, racial composition, land area, miles of streets, things like that," he said. "Then we'll get the total assessed value of the property. That's what we'll need in order to estimate ad valorem taxes that would be coming in from that."
Slaughter said the study will also have to identify at least five tax-paying businesses in the study area for the Mississippi Department of Revenue, and will check with the Mississippi State Rating Bureau to determine what impact the added areas will have on the city's fire rating.
Perkins, speaking to The Dispatch after Friday's work session, said he's not sold on the study area. He said he wants to see something more concrete, and also would like to see the city pay attention to its western and northern areas instead of focusing on growing east.
He added the city still has work to do from its last annexation in 1998. For example, he said some of the roads in his ward, such as Jessie Road, Roundhouse Road, Fannie Dale Road and Treasure Lane are still gravel roads.
The 1998 annexation added most of what is now north Starkville, as well as chunks of land to the west and south.
"Before we annex anybody, we need to make sure we get our house in order and address the members of our household we took in in 1998," Perkins said. "I think it is prudent to say before you take any new members in your household, you need to make sure you adequately address those who are already in your household."
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she thinks the city should look at as large an area as possible for the study, because it will likely get trimmed down as the study progresses.
"As we get more information and hear from people in those areas, it's very likely that map will change," she said. "I'd be shocked if it doesn't."
Sistrunk also said the board should pay heavy attention to whether the city can properly support the areas it might bring in through annexation.
"I think it's important to this board for us to be sure that we provide the services that we can and should to any annexed areas," she said. "That will be a major factor in what that final map will look like or if we go forward with any annexation at all."
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