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Sherman seeks Toyota-related annexation for development

The Sherman community in North Mississippi is trying to position itself to snag Toyota-related development once the automotive manufacturing facility starts producing Corollas in fall 2011.
Within the next few weeks, Mayor Ben Logan said, he and Sherman’s planning officials hope to have finalized a map that would show the new city limits that include about 1,200 new acres acquired via annexation.
The property the city has its eye on surrounds on all sides the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 78, just a few miles from the Blue Springs Toyota plant.
Logan hopes to pass an annexation ordinance next January.
“Right now it’s just a matter of cleaning up the map, and getting the description of the before-and-after put into the ordinance,” Logan said last week.
From there, a series of public hearings will be held in Pontotoc, Lee and Union counties to gather input. So far, Logan said, officials have encountered little resistance from property owners. Logan said it was likely that property owners who prefer not to be annexed would be cut out of the annexation.
Spin-off developments have historically followed large projects like the Toyota plant. Canton’s Nissan plant spurred similar growth when it opened in 2003. The tracts Blue Springs has its eye on are mostly undeveloped, but there are a few homes scattered on the property that are already serviced by Blue Springs water and sewer systems, Logan said.
The type of development Blue Springs pursues for the property will depend on its location relative to the 9-78 intersection.
“Immediately to the south along Highway 9 and Highway 78 interchange will be a mix of highway commercial, maybe some light industrial, retail, fast food that sort of thing,” Logan said. “Maybe office complexes and things of that nature. We’ve had several projects that have already approached us that range from a mix of retail, food and apartments.
“They will come in as a planned urban development so it gives the developer a little freedom to plan those large tracts,” Logan continued. “It’s a clean slate now.
“We’ll have to work closely with each development to make sure we can reach them with services. Some may be small enough we can reach them with existing services like water and sewer. For a larger development, we could use tax increment financing (TIF) methods and tap into regional assets for water and sewer. We have already agreements in place for that.”
 While plans are in place to provide services for small and developments and large developments, Logan said he and officials will have to get creative when it comes to development whose size falls between those two parameters, because they present a double whammy: They’re too big to hook up to existing services, but their payout will not be enough to pay back the TIF bonds.
“I don’t want the initial developer to be saddled with the costs of getting the utilities and everything over there, and the follow-up developments don’t have to bear any of that cost. That’s not fair to who was there first,” Logan said. “We’ll try to come up with some way within the zoning ordinance to deal with that, something along the lines of a use fee or an impact fee, whatever fits into the legal description in the ordinance.”
Logan hopes to have the annexation finalized by early April, pending approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Once somebody sets up, I believe it will open a flood gate of development.” 

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