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Spring Taylor, shown at her home in the Pleasant Hill area of rural DeSoto County, has started a petition drive to halt the attempt at annexation of her area and other areas by the City of Olive Branch.

When the City of Olive Branch recently put forward its plans to annex into the city areas of Center Hill, Pleasant Hill, Bridgetown, Lewisburg and Cedar View communities that are in the unincorporated parts of DeSoto County, not everyone seemed excited about the idea.

The disappointment and in some cases outrage over the city’s move was expressed in comments made to the DeSoto Times-Tribune’s story and Facebook posts from those affected.

“We live on retirement and social security and have almost 10 acres of land and house, commented Martha Boren. “We cannot afford for our taxes to go up. This is an awful thing you are trying to do to senior citizens.”

“It is all about I-269 and gaining as much access they can get to it,” added Lynn Brown on Facebook. “They don’t care about the people or the drop in property prices. I have no desire to be in Olive Branch. I prefer the county.”

Led by Pleasant Hill area resident Spring Taylor, opponents of the annexation move are trying to rally support for their side. Taylor, who said she gets fire protection from the Bridgetown Fire Department and law enforcement coverage from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, has started a petition drive to fight the move.

Mayor Scott Phillips, in announcing the Board of Aldermen’s vote to start annexation proceedings for the addition of 50 square miles of land and 14,000 residents, said the decision was part of more than 20 years work. City officials state they have put millions of dollars adding utilities during the past two decades, investments that they said have helped double the area’s population.

Still, Taylor said she was shocked the vote happened.

“It was a surprise to everyone,” Taylor said. “You kind of feel a little offended because we weren’t notified of anything. It was very surprising. We do know it had been in the works for years, but even the county supervisors we have spoken to were not aware they were doing this vote when they did it.”

The last time Olive Branch expanded was in 1996, when the city’s boundary moved west to meet Southaven at Malone Road.

Taylor, like others who may become part of Olive Branch is effort is successful, said she and her neighbors are worried about higher taxes and lower property values.

“The taxes will at minimum double and for some people it will more than double,” Taylor estimates. “If you look the housing value inside the city now opposed to what it was 10-15 years ago, the value has gone down in those subdivisions that are right there in the city.”

City officials were quick to point out, however, that Olive Branch ad valorem taxes remain the lowest among the four major DeSoto County cities.

According to Taylor, at least 2,600 people have signed her online petition, which is on the change.org website, as of Wednesday afternoon. She said she is making paper versions of the petition to continue her fight in person door-to-door.

Ahead on the issue is the city’s filing of its plans to DeSoto County Chancery Court, but Taylor said she believed a public hearing on the proposal must also be held.

“We’ve gotten an overwhelming response of people that want to know when that hearing is and we want to be there to voice our opinion,” Taylor said. “We feel very undervalued and just the fact that it was done without any knowledge.”

Olive Branch City Attorney Bryan Dye said in an email Wednesday a public hearing is not part of the petition process to the Chancery Court. The filing by the city initiates the formal court proceedings, but the petition cannot be filed until the minutes of the Nov. 20 meeting are approved by the Board of Aldermen.

When that petition is filed, the Chancery Court sets a “Return Hearing” at a date and time certain but usually within 60-90 after the petition has been filed.

That hearing is not an actual trial, but it is the opportunity for people, including objectors, to enter an appearance in the court proceedings.

Dye said it is common for the Chancellor to enter a Scheduling Order and also set the matter for trial at a future date, sometimes 9-12 months after the return hearing.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

(4) comments

Tommyj

The annexation plan would double the size of Olive Branch. I would question whether Olive Branch would be able to provide services (such as police) to adequately handle such a large expansion. This is probably not the case in Mississippi, but there is a situation in Memphis where some areas are trying to de-annex themselves. I believe there was a court case as precedent where an area in Tennessee won a case. I assume there was something that the annexing city did not do which allowed de-annexation. Mississippi probably does not have anything which would keep them from annexing but I would look a the case in Tennessee.

Flygirl747

I am the great niece of a long time resident of Olive Branch prior to going to the afterlife. My great uncle was not only a homeowner/resident of Olive Branch, but he was also a business owner at one time.
My spouse and I personally live in the county part of Olive Branch. Even with the annexation we will get nothing out of it, except fire and police protection for all these higher taxes we would have to pay and that is no where near right. This was the very reason we chose to live in the county. No only to enjoy peace and tranquility of country living but the fact that we have 3 and 1/2 acres and the amount of taxes for said land and house were within our budget. We do not want to be annexed into the City of Olive Branch.
I feel our alderman have done all of us in the county areas affected a huge disservice by quietly passing this annexation without allowing the people of areas involved to know about the the coming action. What happened to transparency in government and city actions?
Personally, I will not be voting for reelection of the aldermen representing of my area of DeSoto County. The action these men and women of DeSoto County took was dishonest and wrong on so many levels. Kind of reminds me of actions taken lately in regards to history that our neighboring city took. Personally, I do not want to be part of any county that is dishonest to it's citizens be it city or county citizen.
I will be at any meeting/hearing there is about this issue, because I want no part of it. My spouse and I will fight this action to the very end.

Medrelo

For those opposing annexation did you not have the foresight to see the likelihood of it occurring, especially with the consistent rankings of Lewisburg and Center Hill schools? Housing growth in those areas?
Mrs. Taylor, you also referenced EMS protection provided by Bridgetown. Where do you receive services such as water?
Do you not realize home values will also increase with annexation in affiliation with highly rated schools?
Public Administration 101. Mayor Phillips and the planning committee know what they are doing. Advocacy for growth and stability is what’s needed, not self promotion.

MB

Olive Branch (should be renamed “South Hickory Branch”) has done nothing to create growth in the last 20 years. The flight from Memphis would have happened regardless of the OB leadership. Since 1997 OB actually struggled just to keep up in spite of the two tax increases, property value increases and an incredible influx of businesses and taxpayers. They should have been in the black financially but they had no vision, no plan and no willpower to say no to developers as businesses.
Since 2008 people have been fleeing from OB (and Southaven) to Lewisburg and Hernando. Their residential growth became stagnant and their continued planning and financial ineptitude has resulted in the need for this quick fix of annexation.
OB has done nothing for the county. Lewisburg has its own water service, a different electrical utility, more than satisfactory fire/emergency service, responsive county sheriff dept. and residence have their own septic/waste treatment systems. The only service of value from OB is natural gas and it falls short at peak season every year. Just get ready folks South Hickory Branch is going to tax your property, your auto tags and lower your values. Then as they’ve always done they will approve any type of business without planning and if your in the way you’ll be threatened with eminent domain. OB missed their opportunity 20 years ago to not act like a suburb of Memphis. However they choose the same old mid-south creep and destroy that’s been going on here for decades.
The only silver lining for us is that we can all come together to vote out all those that signed onto this land grab. Good by Mayor and aldermen.

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