VOL. 131 | NO. 70 | Thursday, April 7, 2016
City Council Debates Idea of De-Annexation Compromises
By Bill Dries
A proposal to form a joint city-county group to explore voluntary de-annexation and the city’s footprint goes to the Memphis City Council for a vote in two weeks.
But there is vocal sentiment on the council against the city giving up any of its turf, including the most recently annexed areas of south Cordova and Southwind-Windyke.
That sentiment surfaced Tuesday, April 5, as the council reviewed the proposal by council chairman Kemp Conrad and recent debate over de-annexation by referendum legislation in the Tennessee Legislature. The de-annexation bill was moved to a summer study committee, killing a possible vote on it this year, but the issue will likely begin anew in Nashville next year.
“I’m not trying to cut a deal with Nashville,” said council member Edmund Ford Jr. “We give you Cordova and you leave us alone – I’m not interested in that. I’m not into deal-making unless they are going to cut a check for $601 million in capital spending.”
Ford is referring to his own calculations of the city’s capital spending in commercial and industrial areas in 18 parts of the city annexed since May 1998 that would fall under the de-annexation bill.
“Unless these folks are willing to give us some sort of promissory note, I recommend we fight this to the end,” Ford added.
At one point, before the de-annexation referendum bill was killed for the session, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said his administration was willing to talk about voluntary de-annexation of Southwind-Windyke and south Cordova, which were annexed in 2007.
An amendment to that effect in the state House was rejected by the House sponsor.
Meanwhile, Conrad said he will amend his proposal to increase the joint city-county panel from 10 members to 11 to include a business representative. The panel right now would include city council members, Shelby County commissioners and state legislators representing Shelby County.
The panel is to submit recommendations to the council and commission by the end of this year, before the Legislature starts its 2017 session.
In other action Tuesday, the council set an April 19 public hearing date and vote on the Parkside at Shelby Farms Park planned development at Mullins Station Road and Whitten Road.
The proposed development on the northern border of Shelby Farms Park near the Shelby Farms Greenline features three six-story apartment towers.
The April 19 council session is also the date for a public hearing and vote on a special-use permit for lighting a recreation field at The Hutchison School at 1740 Ridgeway Road in East Memphis.
The council approved Tuesday the closing of Eastmoreland Avenue between South Bellevue Boulevard and South Claybrook Street as part of the expansion of the Methodist University Hospital campus.
The council also voted Tuesday to delay votes on a resolution for the issuance of $150 million in general obligation bonds to finance city public works projects and a resolution for the sale and issuance of another $77 million in general improvement bonds.
Conrad called for the two-week delay in what the administration has described as “routine” financial actions to give the public and council a chance to ask questions about the large financial transactions.