July 3, 2019 9:01:57 AM
For almost two years now, the city of Starkville has made known its desire to annex portions of the county, most notably on the east side of town.
Those effort appear to be drawing near completion now.
Tuesday, the city held its second public hearing on the annexation plans, but resistance remains among some residents who live within the city's plan, which has been redrawn several times.
Tuesday, the board presented another change, this one eliminating most of University Estates from the plan after a groundswell of opposition emerged during a June pubic hearing.
That did not mean the end of opposition, however.
Residents used the public hearing to voice their displeasure on a variety of fronts, from having to comply with city codes and ordinances, to having to pay city taxes, to concerns over how the annexation would affect voting (the new plan would reduce black voting strength by roughly 100 voters), to the recollection of the city's last annexation (in 1998) when some city services that were to accompany annexation were greatly delayed.
Left unsaid, for the most part, is that some people just don't want to live in the city and made a conscious decision to live outside the city limits.
It would be wrong for anyone to simply dismiss those concerns out of hand.
Yet growth comes and with it, growing pains.
Unlike 1998, the planned annexation this time affects a smaller, more densely developed area, which should mean the city would be able to put in places the services that come with annexation in a more timely manner.
The city said it plans to add police officers, street workers and equipment needed to insure those residents have the services their city tax dollars will support.
Strategically, the areas in the plan represent the area where growth is most likely. They are both major entry points into the city, and it's understandable why the city would want some say in how that development occurs. From the east, these areas are the "front door" to the city. Starkville has a direct vested interest in the area's future.
The city has shown that it is responsive to residents, as evidenced by its decision to remove University Estates from the plan at Tuesday's meeting.
But there is one thing that is absolutely certain with any annexation plan anywhere: There will not be 100 percent acceptance.
The city will again hold a public hearing on the new plans on Aug. 2. Citizens again will have an opportunity to raise any relevant issues and, based on what we've seen so for, the mayor and aldermen will listen.
As the city has shown, there remains room for compromise and adjustments.
It has been a fair process to date. We expect it to remain so.
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