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Oxford Hospital Site Annexation Objectors Appeal

by Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Three original objectors to the inclusion in the city of limits of a 150-acre site chosen for Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi’s new hospital have appealed a court’s approval of the inclusion.

By filing a supercedeas bond, they have also delayed the inclusion. An inclusion is a procedure that produces the same result as an annexation but that is initiated by someone other than the city.

The then-landowners and their lone tenant petitioned in February 2012 to compel the city to include the tract, which was bordered on three sides by existing city limits. Baptist officials supported the petition, and the city, which was officially the defendant in the case, did not object.

Baptist, part of a Memphis-based health care network, had leased the current hospital since 1989 but bought the facility from the city and county for $60 million and a promise to build a new $250 million regional hospital inside Oxford. The chosen property put the location outside the city.

Since Chancery Judge Ed Roberts approved the inclusion last month, some objectors have dropped out of the case, but Kenneth F. Farrell, James Morris and Terry Joe Blount filed an appeal to have the case reviewed by the Mississippi State Supreme Court.

Most objectors have or had a connection to properties east of Highway 7 between Highway 30 and University Avenue that had once been considered for the new hospital.

“We have this week to articulate all the reasons for the appeal, all the issues involved,” Farrell said, noting that by filing a supercedeas bond, the inclusion is not activated until after the appeal.

He added that those reasons include issues of annexation law and ordinances as well as the circumstances of the trial. One issue likely to be named is the marathon nature of the trial and the frail health at the time of the objectors’ lead attorney.

“We did not receive fair treatment in the trial,” Farrell said, adding the appeal will also probably ask the Court to reexamine the residency and voting eligibility of Catherine Babb.

“We’re not nearly ready to quit,” he said.