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VOL. 127 | NO. 34 | Monday, February 20, 2012

Redistricting Up for Second Reading

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners will see Monday, Feb. 20, if there is still a seven-vote majority on the body to pass a new set of district lines and a new commission structure on the second of three readings.

The plan that would convert the commission from a 13-member body of five districts to a set of 13 single-member districts is the third attempt by the commission since late last year to complete its once-a-decade redistricting process.

The process was supposed to be completed at year’s end. It is the subject of a pending Chancery Court lawsuit filed by commissioners Walter Bailey, Mike Ritz and Terry Roland.

The district lines of the commission and other local, state and federal legislative bodies are redrawn once every 10 years to reflect population changes and shifts in the U.S. Census.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

The single-member district plan passed two weeks ago on first reading. Passage of any plan on third reading requires a nine-vote, two-thirds majority.

The commission also votes Monday on an option agreement between Illinois Central Railroad Co. and the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission on 800 acres of land in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park. It is a 10-year option at $12,000 an acre to develop a Memphis Logistics Park announced last year by executives of Canadian National Railway Co., the parent company of Illinois Central. CN already has an option on 77 acres of land in the area.

More than 80 percent of the infrastructure cost is to be paid for by CN with an estimated economic impact of $250 million in buildings, according to the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Also on the agenda are two ordinances up for the first of three readings that reflect Shelby County government’s exit from two high profile public facilities in Downtown’s north end.

The first ordinance would do away with the Memphis and Shelby County Convention Center Commission. The other would do away with the Memphis and Shelby County Public Building Authority governing The Pyramid.

The county sold its share in the ownership of both facilities in 2011 to the city of Memphis.

The Pyramid is now undergoing demolition work under a city contract to remove its seating bowl and all traces of its original life as an arena starting with its opening in late 1991. After the city demolition work is done, Bass Pro Shops will begin the conversion of the structure to a super store for the outdoors retailer along with other attractions.

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