Amendment to allow annexation signed off by the governor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 27, 2008

NATCHEZ — The annexation of approximately 3 square miles of county land is right on track.

Attorney Walter Brown appeared before the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday to report on the annexation progress.

After the board voted to move forward with the annexation of land near Old Country Club Road and on U.S. 61 South in October, Brown said the next step in the process was to get the governor’s approval.

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In order for the city to annex land, it’s required by state law for the city to submit a charter amendment.

That’s why the governor’s approval is required, Brown said.

After publishing the amendment three times, it was sent to Gov. Haley Barbour.

“Unless there’s an opposition through petition, then the governor submits it to the (state) attorney general,” Brown said. “He reviews it to make sure it complies with state and federal constitutions and then it goes back to the governor and he signs it.”

After that, the charter amendment is recorded by the secretary of the state.

The amendment has now been signed by the governor.

What’s to come is for the city to file a petition in the chancery court for the amendment to be heard.

A judge will be appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court and a hearing will take place.

At this point, objectors can voice their opinions.

In the past, the Adams County Board of Supervisors were against the annexation.

County board members had said they wanted to uphold the best interest of their constituents and said they believed anyone living in the proposed annexed area would not want to live in the city.

And initially, city officials thought approximately 12 residents would be annexed in.

But after further examination by Brown and City Engineer David Gardner, it was determined that no residents in either parcel of land would be annexed in.

Because of this change, Brown said he feels there will no longer be an issue with the county board.

“It’s my feeling there will be no opposition,” Brown said.

The city will then have to prove to the appointed judge that the annexation will be beneficial to the city.

“Then the chancery court will enter a judgment approving the annexation,” Brown said.

He said he is looking at between 90 and 180 days before a final judgment is made.

After the judgment, the amendment will be sent to the United States Attorney General to make sure it complies with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“We feel confident the attorney general will approve it at a national level,” Brown said.

If annexation complies, the amendment will be published once more and the annexation will go into affect.

As far as the transfer of property goes from the county to the city, Brown said because both sections of land are undeveloped, not much will change.

“There are no utility issues,” he said, meaning no water or sewer lines will need to be transferred under the city’s maintenance.

No roads will be annexed, either.

Because the property on U.S. 61 South is being developed into a mixed commercial and residential area, Brown said new roads will be tied into the city eventually.

The other parcel of land, which is around Country Club Road, has no plans for development at this point, he said.