Desoto County News

Olive Branch aldermen review redistricting plan

Final ward boundaries could be approved on June 7

Olive Branch city officials are closer to finalizing its new ward boundaries and a decision could come at the June 7 Board of Aldermen meeting to approve the new boundaries presented by Slaughter and Associates senior planner Richard Donovan Jr. at Tuesday evening’s board meeting.  Slaughter and Associates is an urban planning consultant business that deals in voting district redistricting, among its areas of expertise.  

Tuesday’s agenda item was a public hearing on the redistricting item and city attorney Bryan Dye pointed out the city had gone above its legal requirements in posting and advertising the public hearing. However, no one stepped forward to comment on the redistricting plan.  

Donovan pointed out two obvious challenges in setting forward new boundary lines for the city wards. They are population growth from traditional attraction and from the recent annexation of areas to the south and east of the old boundaries.  

Richard Donovan, Jr. with Slaughter and Associates, presented the redistricting plan for Olive Branch. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

“The city has two large annexation areas that were definitely a different challenge than most redistricting,” Donovan said. “You’re basically adding 7,000 from growth and 7,000 from annexation, so they both created some challenges.”

Of the six wards in Olive Branch under the proposal, Ward One would have 7,594 residents, Ward Two would have 7,590, Ward Three 7,940, Ward Four 7,924, Ward Five 7,856, and Ward Six would have 7,562 residents.  The post-annexation Olive Branch population is listed as 46,466, a growth of 6,755 from the official 2020 Census figures before annexation and a growth of nearly 13,000 people from the 2010 Official Census number of 33,484. 

Donovan presented the new maps in a presentation and copies of the proposed maps were made available at the Board of Aldermen meeting.  

Racial diversity, population equity, and avoiding the displacement from current aldermen from their wards were other pieces in putting the redistricting puzzle together.  

“One thing that we wanted to do was to make sure we preserve the racial diversity within a ward and make sure that we don’t affect a minority in a negative manner,” Donovan pointed out. “We’re not here to move aldermen out of their ward. That’s not our job or goal.”

The redistricting Plan A, as it was called,” also came about’ with “a couple of work sessions” with city officials, Donovan said.  

OB AIRPORT KEPT BUSY:  In his Mayor’s Report, Mayor Ken Adams talked about the growth in activity at the Olive Branch Airport, which saw April figures higher than for any month since statistics were first available in 2005.

Adams said there were 7,025 takeoffs or landings at the airport in April, with two days where over 500 takeoffs or landings took place on that day alone. The airport also saw 3,902 civil aircraft and 30 military aircraft at the airport during the month of April. 

The mayor also talked about the need for more hangar space at the airport. Adams said the airport now has 60 hangars, but there are 93 pilots and companies that are on a waiting list for hangar space. 

The city wasn’t successful in getting state funding for new hangars in the 2022 Legislative session, however Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann intimated the city and state could partner later in the year for a 50/50 match in funding. Adams has asked the Board of Aldermen to be considering that option, which may come before them at a later meeting.  

In the month of April, there were 6,853 calls into city dispatch for response by first responders, public works and the animal shelter.  Of that number, 2,237 were for police response, 466 were for fire response, and 392 were ambulance calls.  

Photo: Olive Branch Redistricting Plan A, presented to the city’s Board of Alderman. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

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