A hearing about Columbia’s annexation plan has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 22 at the Marion County Courthouse.
Anyone objecting to the proposal will be given opportunity to voice protests before Chancellor Deborah Gambrell, who is presiding over the case.
Most likely at the hearing a trial date will be set for later in 2020, according to what J. Chadwick Mask, a Jackson lawyer hired by the city to help with the annexation process, told aldermen in an August meeting.
The territory being taken in would add about 3 square miles and about 945 residents, increasing the city’s population to about 7,048, according to estimates by consultant Slaughter and Associates.
An ordinance being published Oct. 31, Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 spells out a lengthy legal description of the property to be annexed as well as what services the city plans to provide. The full ordinance can be read in the pubic notice section of today’s edition.
The Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the ordinance on Aug. 20.
The public notice says the city has five years to make improvements to the annexed areas. Those improvements include things like streets, drainage, sewer lines and street lighting. Annexed residents would also receive other city services like police and fire protection, animal control and garbage as well as the right to vote in municipal elections.
The city will also redraw the district lines for aldermen within six months of the effective date of the annexation ordinance. The ordinance would take effect 10 days after the chancellor made her decision. If there were an appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, the ordinance would take effect 10 days after the high court’s determination.
The burden is on the city to prove the reasonableness of its plan, based on 12 standards established by the state Supreme Court.