Wednesday, January 3, 2007
The city of Jackson shook off a recent deal with the community of Byram, after a Hinds County Chancery Court judge's decision to allow Byram residents to incorporate.
In a blow to Jackson's prospects to take Byram, Judge William Singletary recently decided to allow Byram residents to incorporate about four more square miles than Jackson lawyers say they expected. Jackson appealed the decision on Friday, based on the argument that the city will be landlocked by surrounding municipalities if the Byram incorporation goes forward.
"(Byram incorporation) would block the last main arterial growth route for Jackson," attorney James Carroll told The Clarion-Ledger, explaining that the council should have the last word on whether
or not the community on the southern outskirts of the city could incorporate.
Pieter Teeuwissen, special assistant to the city attorney, said last week that a majority of the council may hold opinions similar to Carroll's, though Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler said he wasn't sure if the council had fully backed Carroll's suggestion.
Council President Ben Allen said the city had fi led the appeal as a means to preserve the right to appeal rather than because the city had any particular issue with the decision.
"It was a housekeeping issue, and nothing more," Allen said. "Here's the deal: the city had 10 days to appeal the ruling. City legal advised me and Jim to file this appeal if we had any inclination that we may or may not appeal, because if we don't fi le it then we would've been outside the window to appeal." Allen said the council will discuss the ruling more thoroughly in the upcoming weeks.
Hinds County Chancery Court clerk Jana Smith said she did not receive Carroll's Byram case appeal last Friday and had not seen one as late as Tuesday afternoon. Allen has grown cool to the prospect of annexing Byram since the city legal fees for the decades old court battle topped a $1 million price tag last year. Last year the council had even brought on former Mayor Dale Danks as an attorney for
the city, though Danks was also working with Byram residents in fighting the annexation at the time.
Council members like Ward 2's Leslie McLemore were more resolute in their opinions a few months ago, arguing that surrounding development should not stifle the city's growth. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton is less exuberant about the annexation than his predecessor, former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., who lobbied heavily for annexation in both Byram and the city of Ridgeland during his administration.
A compromise between Byram and Jackson appeared possible earlier this year, with the city claiming a chunk of Byram territory and Byram being allowed to incorporate. But Jackson offi cials walked away from the deal after learning that Singletary has awarded more land to Byram than expected.