DeSoto County Supervisors hailed a judge’s decision that reduces the total area of targeted annexation by the city of Olive Branch.
Chancery Judge Percy Lynchard, Jr. approved the annexation of about 18.5 square miles including the areas of Center Hill, Belmore Lakes and Bridgeforth Road but the court left certain proposed areas out.
Olive Branch originally petitioned for 41 square miles of unincorporated DeSoto County.
Supervisors said the trial proved Lynchard agreed on concerns with their magnitude of the proposed annexed area.
Olive Branch argued in 2019 the proposed areas were in the city's natural path of growth and has been for 20 years. Fourteen thousand new residents would have been added.
Seventy-eight people went on record to oppose annexation of 50 square miles of unincorporated DeSoto County in April 2019.
Both Hernando and DeSoto County filed objections to the annexation in 2019
Opponents said at the time, annexation was an overreach of city government to enhance its tax base.
In 2018, Olive Branch presented its plan for annexation to include Bridgetown, Center Hill, Pleasant Hill, Lewisburg and Cedar View. Olive Branch’s last expansion was in 1996 when the city boundary moved next to Southaven at Malone Road.
“This testimony convinces the court that the total of the proposed areas is unnecessary, unneeded and overburdensome to citizens in the proposed areas,” said Lynchard, in the release.
District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee said the areas proposed for annexation include his and District 1 Supervisor Jessie Medlin’s districts.
“The majority of the annexation, Lewisburg and Bridgetown, is in my district,” said Lee. “There was a small part that was in Mr. Medlin’s district, a little bit on 305 and up there at Center Hill Road and 302, but (Olive Branch) got that. We figured they would because that’s an industrial area. Everything south of College all the way down to I-269, Malone Road is all my district.”
"They ended up getting about 18 square miles.”
Lee added that the Bridgetown community was unaffected but parts of Lewisburg were.
District 5 residents responded to Lee in mixed degrees.
“Oh they’re so happy,” said Lee, “of course the ones that did get annexation are not too happy. The people in Bridgetown, they’re very excited and thankful for the board and the board’s attorneys how hard they worked to keep them from getting annexed. They’re ecstatic, you can’t even imagine.”
Lee emphasized the more rural lifestyle of residents who avoided annexation.
“They live out in the county and that’s what they wanted,” said Lee. “There’s a lot of freedoms you have in the county. You can have cows, goats, chickens, you have property where you can do all of that. Once Olive Branch takes you in, there’s new rules and ordinances you have to abide by.”
Olive Branch Aldermen Pat Hamilton and Joy Henderson said they could not give any public comment until after the evening board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday, April 6.
Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips did not return messages for comment.
District 1 Supervisor Jessie Medlin said the areas from his district that were annexed included 302 east to the Marshall County line. Medlin also received positive feedback from residents.
“The people in Lewisburg are thrilled to know they won’t get annexed,” said Medlin. “For them, that would have meant high taxes and no representation.”
Medlin, like Lee, said there are some things the county can do better for those areas that cater to country living.
“We have a great sheriff department, volunteer fire departments, road systems, we maintain our roads and the extensive recycling program,” Medlin said. “People in Olive Branch don’t want more annexation and want the city to address its current issues.”
Lee lauded the county attorneys' work on the issue and the judge’s ruling.
“Our attorneys proved there wasn’t any need, for the most part, for annexation,” said Lee. “The judge heard what Olive Branch had to say and felt that there wasn’t anything the city of Olive Branch could provide. The part that Olive Branch did get, it bordered Olive Branch so closely. The property across from College Road is the city of Olive Branch. Where the Belmor Lakes subdivision is, their neighbors across the street on College Road are in Olive Branch. That’s the reason I’m probably thinking the judge gave those areas because they’re so close anyway.”
Lee added that communities like Bridgetown which still receive utility services from Olive Branch won’t have to worry about any changes.
“I guarantee they still send that bill each month.”