City OKs annexation study, smoking ordinance

Mayor Lynn Spruill discusses the agenda at the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday at City Hall. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
By: 
LOGAN KIRKLAND
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved the consideration for an annexation study and the proposed changes to the current smoking ordinance during its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

The board approved the consideration for an annexation study with Slaughter and Associates with a 4-2 vote. Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver voted against the consideration. Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think it’s an important thing for us to do,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said. “We haven’t looked at annexation in 20 years.”

During discussion, Spruill said she would like to look at opportunities moving both south and east. She particularly pointed out areas in the east such as Helix Starkville Apartments, Twenty One Apartments, The Retreat at Starkville and Aspen Heights Starkville.

“They are very close to the city limits and they are receiving city services,” Spruill said. “They are receiving the benefits of being in an urban area without paying taxes for being in an urban area.”

With this study, Spruill said it could raise the population of Starkville to over 30,000. She said with this population growth, it could bring better opportunities for the city.

“From that we derive a lot of benefit,” Spruill said. “This is an exploratory opportunity for us.”

Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller said whenever a city is looking to expand revenue, it has to look at three options. Those include reduced spending, raising taxes and annexation. Miller said obviously, the other two options are not popular, so it’s worth looking at annexation.

Miller said through this process he will focus on making sure the quality of city services does not decline if the annexation proves to be successful.

Ward 3 Alderman David Little said Slaughter and Associates is a professional business who work on annexation throughout the state. He said with the company not being located in Starkville, he said it cuts the concern of politics being brought into the mix.

“Nobody needs to be alarmed,” Little said. “Let’s see where this study takes us.”

SMOKING ORDINANCE

The board passed the amendment to the current smoking ordinance unanimously with a 6-0 vote. Vaughn was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

The proposed change to the ordinance was intended to update the language to include electronic cigarettes.

During the second public hearing there were four people who spoke in favor of changing the smoking ordinance and four against.

The residents who spoke for the changes discussed the harm tobacco products can cause through use and through second-hand smoke inhalation.

In particular, one concern was how multiple businesses can occupy a particular building, which could contaminate the air for other businesses.

Those speaking against the ordinance change said it would affect their businesses negatively. The concern is customers would not be able to test products.

Another argument presented said electronic cigarettes do not produce harmful second-hand smoke and would not pollute the air. Through personal stories, those speaking against the change said vaping serves as a way to help wean people off of tobacco products who are addicted.

Before the vote, Carver proposed an amendment to the ordinance, which would exclude free-standing vape businesses from the ordinance.

The board voted on the amendment and it was dismissed with a 4-3 vote with Spruill as the tie breaking vote.

“I believe the e-cigarettes are not conducive to a no smoking environment,” Spruill told the Starkville Daily News. “This further enhances that.”

OTHER BUSINESS:
•The board approved the authorization for Mayor Lynn Spruill to sign the certificate of substantial completion for the new Starkville Police Department headquarters with a 4-2 vote. Perkins and Carver voted against. The headquarters is tentatively set to open on Oct. 13 at 10 a.m.
•Perkins awarded civil rights activist Dorothy Isaac with a plaque to recognize her for outstanding community service.
•Spruill introduced a new firefighter for the Starkville Fire Department.
•Spruill introduced four new police officers for the Starkville Police Department.

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