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VOL. 129 | NO. 129 | Thursday, July 03, 2014

State Appeals Court Greenlights Southwind Annexation

By Bill Dries

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The Tennessee Appeals Court ruled Wednesday, July 2, that the city of Memphis can move ahead with plans to annex Southwind because a recently enacted moratorium on annexation by the state legislature does not apply to the earlier annexation decision.

In the ruling, the court specifically overturned a December 2013 ruling by Chancellor Walter Evans just days before the Southwind annexation was to take effect. Evans granted an injunction preventing the city from annexing the area until the moratorium expired. Evans also denied the city’s request for a stay of his ruling pending an appeal.

Both matters have been remanded back to Evans.

Terms of the annexation were worked out in a 2006 consent agreement and order that was agreed to by the city of Memphis and the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs later sought to stop the annexation citing the moratorium. And the appeals court acknowledged the significant changes in annexation procedures with the moratorium.

But the Tennessee Legislature approved the 2013 limitations on future annexations – specifically the moratorium -- between the time the consent order was entered and when the annexation of the two parcels in Southwind at stake was to take effect.

“Because the city’s ordinance became operative prior to the moratorium established by the Tennessee General Assembly, the trial court erred in setting aside the consent order,” Appeals Court Judge Steven Stafford wrote in the opinion.

Those opposing the Southwind annexation could seek an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. An appeal to the Supreme Court is not automatic and the court would have to agree to hear the matter, otherwise the appeals court ruling in the final legal word on the matter.

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