Local 24 News has learned new information on the fight against annexation efforts by Olive Branch. The city wants the tax base and would more than double in size, but those who would be annexed are pushing back, and now a state lawmaker wants to pass a law forcing cities to get voter approval first before they grab any more land.
The annexation will affect roughly 14,000 people who live in that area. There is now a Facebook Group called “Fight 4 Desoto.”
Mississippi Representative Steve Hopkins, who represents areas of Southaven and Olive Branch, submitted House Bill 1051, which could change the way annexation plans go for Olive Branch. Hundreds of Desoto County residents have already voiced support for the bill.
“The annexation laws that are on the books right now date back to the 1970s. They haven’t been updated. They don’t take into consideration all the growth that’s occurred,” said Mark Dickey with Fight 4 Desoto.
Olive Branch’s plan calls for annexing 50 square miles of unincorporated Desoto County, more than doubling the city’s footprint. It will go to a Chancery Court Judge later this Spring, but residents rather the issue go to the polls.
“Very concerned that it’s really more or less a land grab to add additional taxes but also to commercialize the new I-269 that circles the city and connects the major interstates,” Dickey said.
Dickey is one of the people spearheading Fight 4 Desoto.
“We strongly feel that we deserve to be heard and that’s our biggest concern really, is that we’re not being represented,” Dickey explained.
Representative Hopkins released the following statement:
“Every citizen deserves to have a say in whether or not they wish to be annexed, that doesn’t happen currently in Mississippi. HB 1051 if passed would give people the right to vote on whether or not they wanted to become a part of the city. The people who live in these areas have no representation on the city councils who are voting to annex them, thus they are voiceless. HB 1051 returns the power where it belongs, to the people mostly impacted.”
Olive Branch Mayor, Scott Phillips says the city has studied areas to be annexed for the past 20 years and it already provides utilities and services to much of the proposed area.
The group, “Fight 4 Desoto” is hosting a town hall meeting February 2nd.