Lawsuit Challenges Annexation

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The lawsuit alleges Meridian's annexation plan would discriminate against African-Americans.

The suit was filed by Thomas J. Young, a former resident of Meridian who has lived in Chicago since 1996 but still owns property here.

The lawsuit includes these claims.

  • Annexation is intended to assure a white race voting age majority
  • The city of Meridian discriminates against the black race
  • Subdivision building requirements have made home ownership financially out of the reach of the average black person
  • Annexation violates the rights of the black race to equal protection of the laws and equal and fair enjoyment of the right to vote.

There were also other claims made in the eight page filing.

"We vigorously oppose the allegations in the lawsuit," said Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer. "We believe strongly that the data and the facts will show that his allegations are baseless. Race is not an issue on the reasons why we want to annex. I mean it's all economic."

Storms said if annexation is granted it will increase white voting strength 1.4 percent and still leave the city's population 53 percent black.

Robert Ward, who developed the 50-lot Windmill subdivision, said he has minority buyers in his north Meridian development.

"Thirty nine of those lots are closed out and five of the buyers are African-Americans," Ward said. "(There are) three international citizens there, so that would be eight of 39 homes."

The annexation case is scheduled to be heard in Lauderdale County Chancery Court on Aug. 2.

Young is requesting that the court dismiss the city's annexation case and assess Meridian with all costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.