In a ruling released Monday, the boundaries of the City of Olive Branch were enlarged by roughly 50%. The City had petitioned to annex 41 square miles of unincorporated DeSoto County. Chancellor Percy Lynchard approved the annexation of about 18.5 square miles which includes the Center Hill area, Belmore Lakes, and areas surrounding Bridgeforth Road which are currently served by Olive Branch Fire.
During the eight day trial, DeSoto County and the City of Hernando recognized Olive Branch’s right to expand, but objected to the scope of the annexation. A planning expert also expressed concerns with the magnitude of the proposed annexation area. Judge Lynchard stated he took into consideration the law which gives Olive Branch to right to expand and the rights of the citizens in the proposed annexation area.
“We are glad the Court listened to many constituents who were against being annexed by Olive Branch,” said District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee. “I was proud to take a stand to represent people in unincorporated DeSoto County, especially residents of Lewisburg and Bridgetown.”
About 10.5 square miles of the annexed area is in Supervisor Jessie Medlin’s district. “I think people deserve to have a say when it comes to annexation,” said Medlin. “I agree with the court’s opinion that the Mississippi Legislature needs take action to pass laws that are fairer to citizens when a city exercises its rights to expand.”
The impact on Fire Districts and the enhanced services provided by the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department factored heavily in Monday’s decision. “Residents of the proposed areas…would be better served by leaving the Lewisburg Fire Prevention District and the Bridgetown Graded Fire District as intact as possible,” wrote Lynchard. “Similarly, it would appear to be in the City’s interest for the City to include at least the majority of the Olive Branch Municipal Fire District inside the city limits.”
“We appreciate the court’s acknowledgement that our Deputies, Fire Fighters, and Paramedics provide excellent services, and that city services would not enhance first responder services,” said Lee.
Supervisor Medlin’s district covers both the City of Olive Branch and unincorporated areas of the County. “Over my last 30 years on the Board, Olive Branch has expanded its boundaries three times. I’ve heard from many people who felt City services would decline if they took over a lot more land.”
You can read the entire ruling by going to this link: www.desotocountyms.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5211/Olive-Branch-Annexation-Ruling