OLIVE BRANCH, MS (WMC) - Residents were in court Wednesday to object plans for Olive Branch to annex 50 square miles of unincorporated DeSoto County.
A quick hearing inside the DeSoto County Courthouse set a rough timeline for this annexation case. It may not go to trial until well into next year.
“I figured it would be a long drawn out thing,” said Steve Dodd, who opposes the annexation plan. “I'm going to be here every time the court is in session.”
Olive Branch’s annexation plan was filed in the Chancery Court of DeSoto County, and that’s where it will be decided. In a preliminary hearing Wednesday, 78 people went on the record with the court to object to the plan.
“We just want to make sure we maintain the quality of life we have right now,” said Mark Dickey, who opposes the annexation plan.
That quality of life these residents of areas of Lewisburg, Bridgetown, Pleasant Hill, Center Hill and Cedar View say includes avoiding city taxes and ordinances.
“I’m satisfied with what we have right now,” Dodd said.
If a court approves it, about 14,000 people in DeSoto County would become Olive Branch residents. But many of them say it’s an overreach of city government to enhance its tax base and commercialize the area.
Olive Branch officials said the area is in the city's natural path of growth and has been in the plans for decades.
“We understand there is a lot of opposition,” said Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips. “That’s something the city has been for decades looking at.”
Phillips says these plans have been in the works for 20 years. He’s seen how quickly the city has grown to over 30,000 people compared to just being a town of 3,500 when he was a kid.
“I feel like it’s a positive I know it’s going to be hard to convince people of,” Phillips said.
“Those that have been in our area for 15-20 years have seen Olive Branch grow,” Dickey said. “We don’t want that. We enjoy the area we are in, and we want to keep it that way.”
A status hearing for a trial date is set for April of 2020.