MEMPHIS, TN –
(WMC-TV) – A brewing annexation fight took another turn Tuesday when a Memphis City Council committee voted to swallow up a huge chunk of east Shelby County.
City leaders believe current efforts in Nashville to keep them from annexing eastern portions of the county are unconstitutional and they made a bold move to try and preserve a previous agreement.
All but one council members in Tuesday’s committee meeting voted to annex a large portion of Shelby County which includes parts of Cordova, Fisherville and some 4,900 homes.
“I don’t think this city was going to annex this area if not for the actions of the people in Nashville,” said Council member Jim Strickland.
The reactionary vote followed an effort by suburban lawmakers to eliminate the city’s claim to the land in question which city leaders say was guaranteed under a 1998 agreement.
“Collierville just finished an annexation into their reserve area, nobody waved a flag or said anything and that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.
“It’s a move that smacks of racism, classism and schoolyard bullying,” said a portion of a forceful statement issued by the mayor and council chairman after learning of the proposed legislation.
“The mayor makes it racial every time,” said Marina Best, one of several residents disappointed by the prospect of living within the city limits who showed up for the council’s vote.
“We don’t want to be crime-ridden,” Best said. “We don’t want to be under-educated with failing schools. We want safe neighborhoods.”
The mayor said Memphis has spent millions in the area already and anyone who lives there knew annexation was possible, albeit previously unlikely.
The full council must vote three more times before this annexation is a done deal.
Meanwhile, the Nashville legislation may not move forward if the state attorney general offers an unfavorable opinion.