A trial date has been set for the Madison County Chancery Court to hear Ridgeland’s case for annexing a 4.9-square-mile area near West County Line Road. The trial has been scheduled for the last two weeks of July.
The property, located near West County Line Road, has been part of the city’s master plan since around 2008, according to Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee.
McGee said the city filed an ordinance with the court for annexation of the area with the future of the city and opportunity for growth in mind. In fact, he says it is the only viable option for growth for the city.
“It’s actually the only way the city can grow,” McGee told the Sun, referencing the fact that the outer edges of the city bump up to Madison, Jackson and the Reservoir. “So, we’re moving forward now to annex this area.”
“We’re moving forward to hopefully get the trial done and have successful results,” McGee added.
There are approximately 122 homes located within the more than 3,000 acres the city is looking to annex. Within those households, there are approximately 350 residents who would become Ridgeland residents.
According to McGee, Ridgeland is already providing services to that area, including water. However, annexation would mean the area would get code enforcement, police and fire protection, “adequate zoning” and animal control.
“This will give these residents the municipal services that they deserve,” McGee told the Sun.
He said residents would also benefit from the Ridgeland Fire Department’s class four rating, which could result in lower fire insurance.
Now that a trial date has been set, McGee said the next step in the coming weeks will be continuing to prepare for trial.
The length of the trial will depend on a few factors, mainly how many parties plan to oppose. McGee has said the length of the annexation process has varied over the years, and that there is no way to know exactly how long it will take to complete this time.
The property Ridgeland is seeking to annex also includes the proposed site of the landfill NCL Waste has sought to build, which Ridgeland officials have voiced strong opposition to.
NCL Waste announced plans to oppose Ridgeland’s annexation case back in November at a meeting of the Madison County board of supervisors, which NCL Waste’s attorneys Johnny Brunini and Michael Gwin attended.
“NCL intends to oppose annexation and oppose it vigorously,” Brunini said at the time. “There are others who are interested and willing to oppose that annexation as well. That’s a long process.”
As for the site for the proposed landfill, McGee has said the property “should be light industrial.” If the city is successful in its effort to annex the area, he said they would work with developers to determine the “highest and best” use for the property.
However, the landfill case remains in limbo as the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality permit board will not vote on the case until an updated needs assessment has been conducted by the Madison County board of supervisors.
The board of supervisors is not required to conduct the study and has not voted on plans to do so.
The last time Ridgeland annexed additional property was in September 2016 when the city’s petition was officially approved for property located south of Lake Castle Road and east of Livingston Road.
The city has annexed additional property 11 times since the city’s inception as the Village of Ridgeland, which later became the town of Ridgeland in 1947 and the city of Ridgeland in 1975.
The previous years of annexation were 1952, 1965, 1975, 1981, 1986, 1989, 1996, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2016, according to a previous Sun report.
The city of Ridgeland’s is currently 23 square miles at this time.