People crowded city hall on Tuesday as the board of aldermen held its first public hearing on annexation. The annexation has drawn stiff opposition from residents living in the proposed annexation area to Starkville's east. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
June 19, 2019 11:12:44 AM
Residents who live in areas the city of Starkville is considering annexing flocked to City Hall Tuesday to rail against the annexation at the city's first public hearing on the matter.
Starkville is considering annexing land east of the city, along the Highway 82 and Highway 182 corridors out to Clayton Village and in the University Hills area on the east side of Mississippi State University.
Mayor Lynn Spruill, who has advocated for the annexation, said the city is looking east to bring in areas of growth and to bring the commercial area along Highway 182, where several businesses have sprung up just beyond Starkville's city limits, into the city. Spruill said she was particularly interested in bringing in areas that benefit from being near Starkville but do not currently pay city taxes.
"I was concerned about having annexation and adding to what I believe to be the areas of our community that are close to our city limits but are not part of our urban environment, but people think they are," she said.
But Chuck Schimpf, a University Hills resident, said he doesn't see any benefit in being annexed into Starkville.
"I've been listening to all the reasons for about a year-and-a-half for why we're wanting to do this," Schimpf said. "Still, I haven't heard a good reason why I would want to be a part of this.
"You said something about fairness, as far as what we receive as far as city services," he added. "Annexation isn't going to change our city services. We're still going to have Clayton Village water. We're still going to have East Oktibbeha County Wastewater District for our sewage. None of that is going to change. We will still have 4-County. That won't change."
Schimpf said he's been more than satisfied with the garbage services he's had for the 17 years he's lived in University Estates, and contended that city garbage trucks would just "tear our roads that much more."
"We don't need that," he said.
Jim Chrisman, another University Hills resident, said more than half of the households in the area have signed a petition against the annexation.
"You guys know how difficult it is to get people to respond," Chrisman said. "We got over 50 percent of the households represented in University Hills in this survey, and over 50 percent of the residents. There is a lot of opposition to this annexation because we know we're going to get nothing out of it and we're just going to pay for someone else's benefit."
Bill Chapman, another resident, said people who live outside Starkville's city limits have the freedom to alter their homes or businesses without having to seek permission from the community development department. However, he said there are neighborhood covenants that dictate how homes should be built.
In response to the contention that annexation will introduce zoning regulations and code enforcement, Chapman said that some homeowners already try to build their homes to code.
"Because we're homeowners, it's to our benefit to do it right according to code," he said. "It's not going to help us."
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver questioned whether the city should move on with annexation. When the annexation study process began in the fall of 2017, the city set out with the hope of bringing Mississippi State University into Starkville's city limits and pushing the population to more than 30,000 people.
MSU has declined to be a part of the annexation, and aldermen cut the original, larger annexation area to one that's much smaller and would raise Starkville's population from about 25,000 to about 27,000.
"Those two goals have not been met, but it's continued to be pushed on down the line, and we are where we are today," he said.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, who has consistently opposed annexation, said again on Tuesday that he thinks the city should abandon the effort.
"If they do not want to be in the city, as one gentleman said, why drag them into the city?" he said. "What is the motive? Leave these people alone. We do not need to have governmental regulations trying to force these people to live somewhere they do not want to live."
Tuesday's meeting was the first of two public hearings on the annexation. The board will hold a second one at its July 2 meeting, and aldermen will be able to vote on whether to move ahead with implementing the annexation ordinance.
Should the city decide to move ahead with the ordinance, the matter will go to chancery court, where a judge will ultimately decide whether it takes effect.
Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty and Ward 3 Alderman David Little told The Dispatch they're still considering the annexation, and want to hear what's brought forward at the July 2 hearing.
"This has been a listening session for us," Beatty said. "I'll have more to say once I hear everyone after the second hearing."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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