City officials give mixed reactions to annexation study results 


Slaughter & Associates President Mike Slaughter presents the proposed Starkville annexation to the Board of Aldermen at Tuesday’s meeting. (Photo By Faith Lifer, SDN)

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

Slaughter & Associates told the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night that Starkville has one foreseeable path toward growth and discussed the potential of that option. 

At the meeting, Slaughter & Associates President Mike Slaughter of Oxford gave a presentation to the Board of Aldermen on an annexation study he has conducted of Starkville for proposed areas of annexation.

The last annexation of Starkville was in 1998.

The areas Slaughter & Associates studied for possible annexation were mainly expansions east of Mississippi State University, expansions south of MSU and expansions southeast of Starkville. 

In terms of land area, the existing city is 25.6 square miles. The proposed annexation would make Starkville 36.5 square miles. 

Slaughter & Associates estimated the annexation would bring the city $1.1 million in excess revenue, coming mainly from property and sales taxes of the annexed areas. 

“The population, in and of itself, as far as the studied area is over 6,600 people,” Slaughter said. “In Mississippi, in order to be classified as a city, you have to have a population of 2,000 or above.”

“So that’s a significant population,” Slaughter said. 

Slaughter said one of the most notable findings in the study was the growth of the proposed annex area from 2010 to 2018. The area grew from a population of roughly 2,400 people to a population of roughly 6,600 people just in those eight years.

“That’s tremendous growth out there,” Slaughter said. “It’s almost staggering when you look at what’s happened over the past eight years.”

Slaughter said that rate of growth indicates a need for municipal services. 

“I strongly believe this area would benefit from the city’s planning and zoning and code enforcement,” Slaughter said.

“Not from the city’s standpoint, but from the entire community’s standpoint,” Slaughter added. 

Mayor Lynn Spruill shared her beliefs on the importance of the proposed annexation.

“I do think it’s very important that we become in the top 10 in population in Mississippi, which this would do for us,” Spruill said. “I think it allows us to attract industry, and I think it allows us to attract retail.” 

The annexation would also give the city more control over the growth happening in its midst.

“I think it puts us in a position to be in control of our community,” Spruill said. “Because, right now, we have a huge number of people … who enjoy being in an urban environment that are not sharing the cost of being in an urban environment.” 

There is also exists the potential for another entity to take control of the areas if Starkville does not. 

“I think it is incumbent on us to understand that we have a very large population that is the size of several cities outside of us,” Spruill said. “If somebody wanted to incorporate (the surrounding areas), that would keep us from growing any further to the east, which is where our growth is.”

Slaughter told the board, based on his study, he believes the annexation would be in the community’s best interest. 

“It is the community’s best interest that you annex these areas,” Slaughter said. “Right now, there’s almost uncontrolled growth out there without planning, without zoning, without code enforcement.”

“I look at this as a win-win situation,” Slaughter added. “Where this benefits, not only the city of Starkville, not just the community, but the entire community, which makes up Starkville as well as those surrounding areas.”

MOVING FORWARD

“The only way that the city of Starkville can grow, this is it,” Slaughter said of the proposed annexation. “You’ve got to grow from your boundaries out.”

Slaughter said the board has three options moving forward: The board could choose to annex all of the studied area; The board could annex some of the studied area or the board could not annex anything. 

“Right now, the city of Starkville is not annexing one square inch,” Slaughter said. “We’re just studying the annexation process.”

The first official step to move forward with the annexation would be the creation of an ordinance. 

“I think it is incumbent on us to recognize so that we can control our future,” Spruill said. “Because that’s what we’re talking about. We are talking about the future of our community.”

“As a community we are growing and we are going to continue to grow, because MSU is a driver, and they’re driving to the east,” Spruill added. “And if we don’t control that, then we’re going to lose the opportunity to determine our future.”

However, other board members remained uncertain of their views on the annexation.

“I’m not sure where I am in terms of if I’m willing to support this or not,” Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said. “But I think you’ve given us a lot to consider.”

“And I think if we are going to annex, I think these areas we’re considering,” Walker said of the potential annexed areas. “There’s a lot of rationale that makes sense.”

“I’m not sure where I stand on this,” Ward 3 Alderman David Little echoed. “We’ve also had a tough time taking care of what we’ve got, and I think that’s what people are going to throw at us.” 

However, the annexation would not be a bold one, according to the mayor’s point of view.

“I think this is a more conservative annexation than I have seen,” Spruill said. “I wanted us to have a conservative approach to this annexation so that we are not taking on more than we can handle.”

Spruill asked Slaughter if she was overstating the conservative nature of the annexation, or if the annexation was, in fact, conservative.

“No doubt, Mayor, it’s a conservative annexation,” Slaughter confirmed.

“If the board decides they would like to move forward, keep in mind we have a 2020 census coming up if you would like to have all that accounted,” Slaughter said of the potential annexation. 

The 2020 census will be in April 1, 2020. 

OTHER BOARD BUSINESS

In other news, the board approved the amended variance relief to a condominium development located on the east side of Louisville Street at the intersection of Linden Circle, 6-1. 
Relief was asked from street width requirements and from the requirement that the street be public. The board approved the reliefs under the condition the street be one-way with one-side parking in order for emergency and city services to have the capability to pass through the narrow street. 
Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller opposed the motion due to the precedent the variance relief set for the city. Though, Miller did voice his support of the development overall. 

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