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Commercial property owner seeks annexation

When a city seeks to expand its limits, generally city officials agree to an area and present their case to a chancery judge as to why it should be annexed. However, once in awhile a landowner asks the city to annex property so he or she can have the benefits of city services.

That’s what developer David Blackburn is doing with his new commercial development, The Summit at Oxford Commons, which sits on about 35 acres of land north of the residential portion of Oxford Commons toward Highway 30.

On Tuesday, during the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting, City Attorney Pope Mallette told the board that Blackburn is asking the city to annex the commercial property and is willing to pay the expenses associated with the legal process. City officials recently contracted with Mike Slaughter of Slaughter and Associates to examine Lafayette County for potential annexation sights that would be reasonable for the city to take in. The area north of Oxford Commons, which includes the parcel of land Blackburn would like to be annexed, has been identified as a strong possibility for annexation.

Annexation efficient?

“The question was then, is it efficient to seek annexation when the city is looking at doing a larger annexation,” Mallette said. “The consensus is, is that it is efficient. There is some commercial growth that could happen there if they (developers) know the property is in the city.”

The other question Mallette said that popped up is cost. It would not be cost efficient for the city to pay for legal services and court costs associated with an annexation twice.

“They (Blackburn) are willing to pay for it, not knowing if it will even arrive earlier than our annexation,” Mallette said. “They could get an objection that could tie it up in court, although they feel that isn’t the case.”

Blackburn has agreed to pay the consultation and legal fees for the annexation of his 35 acres. Mallette said Blackburn would likely pay the city and Mallette would bill the city instead to avoid ethical conflicts.

The development

The Summit at Oxford Commons is proposed to have approximately 149,400 square feet of commercial retail space with five primary buildings and five out-parcels for sale with attendant features including utilities, site lighting, parking, driveways, a storm water detention pond and other features typical of a commercial development.

Aldermen voted unanimously to allow the legal department to move forward with drawing up an annexation request ordinance, which will be read three times during board meetings and will include a public hear- ing. The case would then be set for trial in the Lafayette County Chancery Court and there would be a time for objectors to file their objections with the court.

In other business Tuesday:

— Mayor Pat Patterson asked for a moment of silence in honor of Jesse P. Phillips, former owner of The Oxford EAGLE and community leader, who died Sunday after a long illness.

— Ward 1’s newly elected alderman, Rick Addy, was sworn into office and sat with the rest of the board for his first official meeting. Addy was elected last month after the seat was left open when former alder- man Jay Hughes, now serving in the state House of Representatives, won election in November. Addy went up against local attorney Jordan Bankhead.

— Temporarily appointed attorney Daniel Sparks to serve as municipal public defender to fill in for Public Defender Rick Davis during an illness.

— Approved a $75,000 donation to the Oxford- Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation

— Adopted a resolution for the sale of $800,000 general obligation notes at 2.8 percent to generate funds for the purchase of fire emergency radio equipment, turf at FNC Park, the purchase of financial software and a new chiller for City Hall.

— Approved the preliminary and final plat for two-unit residential development, West End, and for the extension of Ricky Britt Boulevard.

— Granted permission to apply for a grant through the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for $75,000 to be used for a forklift and a backhoe.

— Accepted maintenance of Whirlpool Water Plant wells and the building and accepted a change order for a $6,589 decrease for the water plant building construction costs.