Memphis may shed Southwind, Rocky Point neighborhoods

Mayor Jim Strickland

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland says he will present two more areas on the east side of Memphis to City Council soon as candidates for de-annexation.

The city has recommended removing several areas annexed in recent years from the city limits in an effort to “right-size” Memphis. The mayor’s administration says increasing density allows urban services to be provided more efficiently, saving the city money over time. Most of the areas are thinly populated on the city’s outer fringes.

“Memphis may well be the first city in the country to voluntarily explore and propose de-annexation,” Strickland said in a statement. “For too long, Memphis grew only by annexation. We must change that, and we must grow from our core and our neighborhoods. Right-sizing our city by this process helps us do that.”

The next areas under consideration are:

  • Southwind/Windyke, a 1.1-square-mile area in southeast Memphis with about 1,500 residents that was annexed into Memphis in 2013. Residents here have lobbied the city asking to be de-annexed.
  • Rocky Point, a 1.3-square-mile part of Cordova with about 1,200 residents that was annexed into Memphis in 2012.

In June, Eads and the Riverbottoms areas were approved for de-annexation. South Cordova is set to be the next neighborhood in a future phase. The proposed date of de-annexation for the areas is Jan. 1, 2021, after which residents will pay only Shelby County taxes.

The effort grew out of state legislation in 2015 that would’ve allowed many areas of Tennessee cities to separate from those cities by a popular vote. Memphis leaders campaigned against the measure, saying it could devastate the city financially. They formed the Strategic Footprint Review Task Force soon after.

The ordinance is sponsored by District 1 City Council member Bill Morrison, who chaired the Strategic Footprint Review Task Force, with support of District 2 City Council member Frank Colvett Jr.

It was scheduled to be presented to City Council on Tuesday, but scheduling conflicts mean it will have to wait, probably until the July 24 council meeting, a city spokesman said.

State Rep. Mark White, who represents the Sounthwind/Windyke area, and State Rep. Dwayne Thompson, who represents the Rocky Point area, both offered support for the effort.

The Strategic Footprint Review Task Force and the administration focused on areas for potential de-annexation that were low density, were challenging to deliver municipal services, and specifically asked for de-annexation, city representatives said.