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VOL. 132 | NO. 25 | Friday, February 3, 2017

Strickland Proposes 7 Areas for Possible De-Annexation

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wants to at least discuss de-annexing seven parts of the city and reducing the city’s square mileage by 8 percent and thus increasing the city’s population density.

View/download deannexation recommendations (PDF, 3.4MB)

City Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen outlined the administration’s proposal Thursday, Feb. 2, to the task force considering de-annexation.

The areas as outlined at the meeting of the Strategic Footprint Review Task Force are:

• Southwest Memphis: 13.4 square miles of river bottom land in which there are no homes and no residents.

• Frayser: 2.2 square miles of land along Highway 51 and Old Millington Road east of Watkins, that includes the city police and fire training academies and is “generally rural in nature.” Three people call this area home and they live in the one home in the area.

• Raleigh: 4 square miles along New Allen Road north of Ridgemont Road that is along the Loosahatchie River. This includes residential subdivisions in the area that are split between the city and unincorporated county. There are an estimated 3,671 people and 1,739 houses in the area.

• Southwind-Windyke: 1.1 square miles that includes the golf course, some commercial properties, 1,499 people and 845 houses.

• Eads: This is the part of Eads that is not in the unincorporated county, between Cobb Road to the west and the county line. It affects 172 people and 61 houses.

• Rocky Point: East of Cordova, north of Walnut Grove, between the alignment of Forest Hill Road and Rocky Point Road. An area of 1,181 people and 336 houses

• South Cordova: South of the Rocky Point area, with 4,666 people and 1,860 homes in the area. This includes a part of Cordova that was annexed by the city in 1984 and some subdivisions split by the city-county line.

The seven areas combined cover 27.7 square miles with 10,672 people living in the areas – 4,666 white citizens and 5,304 black citizens -- and 4,712 houses in the areas. The square mileage combined is 8.1 percent of the current 340 square miles that constitute Memphis

Strickland said he and his administration looked at three factors in deciding which ones it would talk about possibly de-annexing, starting with density.

“If there’s not density, suburban. If it’s dense, city. Where it’s hard for us to serve and what areas have long term asked to be de-annexed,” Strickland said during a Thursday recording of the WKNO TV program “Behind The Headlines”

The Southwind, Windyke and South Cordova areas – the three areas most recently annexed into the city of Memphis – have been discussed as possible candidates for some sort of voluntary de-annexation by the city. Some citizens in those three areas were vocal in their opposition to being annexed by the city of Memphis.

The task force was formed after state legislators in other parts of Tennessee proposed last year allowing de-annexation referendums in some parts of the state including Memphis among residents of areas that petition to put the move on the ballot. One version of that proposal would have allowed for de-annexation referendums in parts of Memphis annexed as far back as 18 years ago.

Strickland and leaders of Knoxville and Chattanooga fought the proposals which went to a summer study committee after the legislature ended its sessions last year without floor votes on any of them.

Because it was the end of a two-year session, any new proposals would have to start over in the Legislature included committee action on Capitol Hill.

City Council member Bill Morrison, who is chairman of the task force, has said his goal is to have a recommendation by April on further action. The task force report goes to Strickland and the city council for further action.

The next step is a schedule of public meetings and hearings on the administration recommendations.

“We are aware that right-sizing our city is the right thing to do,” McGowen told the task force. “We have grown very large and we have grown very fast.”

As a result, he said the city has lost density and that has been a factor in losing federal funding that is based on density.

McGowen also said the city services withdrawn from those areas will be redeployed in other areas remaining in the city

At the first meeting of the task force, Morrison said his outlook was that there should be some voluntary de-annexation. But other council members have said they oppose the city de-annexing any territory.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, who is on the task force called the set of areas under consideration “awesome.” Roland had advocated for the de-annexation of Southwind, Windyke and South Cordova.

“It’s a giant step forward,” he said. “I’m proud of the product that came out.”

Memphis City Council member Patrice Robinson, however, said the city should state clearly for citizens what kind of density it is aiming for.

“What is the ideal density for a community like Memphis?” she asked. “We need to kind of give them a picture so they will understand that.”

And she wants other factors considered including how much the city has already spent in services delivered to the communities under consideration for de-annexation.

“If we are going to improve services for the city, we’ve got to be able to tell our constituents what does that improvement look like,” she added.

Morrison has said from the outset of the task force’s formation last year that he supports some de-annexation.

“As long as this city can focus on delivery of services, first and foremost, de-annexation is the right thing to do so we can get back to doing what we need to do,” he said Thursday.

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