Opposition to Olive Branch annexation prepares its case

A map of the Olive Branch proposed annexation. The areas in red are the new areas that would be annexed. The area in green is the current city of Olive Branch. The blue area is Southaven.

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — Opponents to Olive Branch’s proposed annexation filed their objections in Chancery Court on Wednesday, marking the first step in what is expected to be a heated battle.

If the annexation proposal passes, Olive Branch will take in $14,000 new residents. For homeowners in unincorporated DeSoto County, that only means one thing: higher taxes.

“We just believe that the annexation by Olive Branch is unreasonable,” said Jaime Ross with the group Unincorporated Citizens of DeSoto County. “There’s not a lot that they can offer us, and so we’re going to let them try to prove their case in court.”

The group, in addition to about 80 homeowners, filed their opposition to the Olive Branch annexation plan, which would expand the city’s footprint from 37 square miles to 87.

The proposed annexation would have the city take in land in the Lewisburg, Center Hill, Pleasant Hill, Bridgetown and Cedar View communities. It would push the city’s boundaries far south of the new I-269 connector, which is another red flag for opponents.

“What we think they are really concerned with is getting the area down by 269, which is going to eventually have some commercial growth going with it,” Ross said. “So, of course they’re looking for sales tax revenue and things like that.”

If passed, the annexation would be the first major one for Olive Branch since 1996.

The city has reportedly spent millions of dollars extending utilities to proposed annexation areas. In its court petition, Olive Branch promised new fire and police facilities.

DeSoto County district five supervisor Michael Lee is opposed to the annexation.

“I think tying to annex 50 square miles, that was a pretty significant and serious reach,” Lee said.

Lee said if the annexation passes, citizens will see more than just a change in their tax bills.

“Things such as raising animals, livestock, shooting, hunting,” Lee said. “So there would be different ordinances that will follow that.”

Lawyers for both sides will have until April 2020 to prepare their cases. Ross said she’s prepared to go the distance.

“We wouldn’t have put ourselves in a position of hiring an attorney and doing what we’re doing and taking personal risks if we didn’t feel like we had a good case,” Ross said.

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