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Latest annexation plan focuses on commercial areas


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Jason Browne



The latest annexation proposal to come before the Columbus City Council intentionally excludes residential areas in favor of commercial property. 


The council met Wednesday at the Municipal Complex to hear consultant Chris Watson, of Bridge and Watson Planning Consultants in Oxford, lay out the plan, which includes four areas to the north, east and west of the city. 


Watson estimates the plan to incorporate multiple businesses and 58 homes will add an assessed valuation to the city of more than $2 million and produce an estimated $150,000 in sales tax annually. Two of the areas lie along the east side of Lehmberg Road, but are separated by the most populated three-quarter-mile stretch. 


"We tried to avoid significant numbers of residential areas," Watson explained. "The tax return you get is usually not a break-even proposition." 


Watson said drainage issues also exist in the residential portion of East Lehmberg which would cost the city more money than the annexation would be worth. Additionally, the low increase in potential citizens won''t significantly affect the city''s racial makeup, which increases the odds the Department of Justice will approve the annexation barring any objections. 


Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens asked Watson about the racial composition of the included areas, after Watson explained the majority of the excluded area of Lehmberg is populated by black residents. Watson replied he couldn''t be sure without performing further studies, and chose not to spend city money performing the studies without the blessing of the council. 


Mayor Robert Smith, who referred to the plan as a "no-brainer," asked for a motion to permit Watson to perform the next round of studies, but the council voted unanimously to table the issue until Tuesday''s council meeting. 


In addition to the areas along Lehmberg, the plan includes a small residential area north of the city accessible only via city roads, and a sparsely populated area to the east which includes Ruben''s Fish House and the Riverwalk, in addition to 14 homes. 


The city is already serving the eastern area and all of the proposed areas are within range of existing city fire stations, thus minimizing infrastructure costs. 


Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem asked how the annexation could affect redistricting, which must take place before the next city election reflecting the latest census information. Watson explained the racial makeup of each ward, as revealed by the census, will serve as a benchmark ratio, which cannot change by more than 10 percent while, at the same time, maintaining an equal number of citizens as the other wards. However, he says the racial balance of each ward has likely changed since the last round of redistricting in 2003.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment brian commented at 12/2/2010 5:47:00 PM:

This is weak. Tupelo just added another 15 sq. miles to their existing 50 sq. miles. Our 25 sq. miles is ridiculous and doesn't reflect our true size, hindering retail and restaurant recruitment. What happened to adding CAFB, it seems the council is only concerned with their future ward make-up and not the overall progress of the city.


Article Comment ckirby commented at 12/2/2010 10:24:00 PM:

Birney, Birney, Birney. I'm disappointed. Still fronting for a small group of city rocket scientists who haven't accomplished much of anything since taking their seats?
I guess your readers are fortunate the Dispatch isn't going with the "county residents are deadbeats who drag on city services" line the paper has run in most of these annexation fights.
Gee, does anyone know the difference between tourists from Germany or France who come to Columbus to shop and spend money (and who the CVB bends over backwards to lure here) and Lowndes county residents who come in to Columbus to shop and spend money far far more frequently?
Here's a clue for free; annexation does not bring any additional people into the marketing area for stores or restaurants. A marketing area is a marketing area. If there are 38K people in the marketing area for a video store, moving a city limit sign won't increase that number.
If the mayor and the council don't want a serious fight on their hands, costing the city legal fees it can't afford, they should try developing the areas of the city that are obviously being ignored for no good reason. Do they need a list?
The old warehouse areas on the south side.
The island.
Land on both sides of 45n at the current city limits.
and what is up with the Bosch plant? Why is it annexation supporters refuse to talk about it? Why won't you talk about it Birney?


Article Comment insanity commented at 12/2/2010 11:10:00 PM:

good point that it's 4-2, got to keep it that way ya know. nevermind that like you said, tupelo is kicking our butt and about to get so far ahead we'd never catch up to them. starkville is ahead of us and climbing also. we can either annex and develop or be the left behinds that we are now.


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