Finding a balance in Chelsea’s annexation battle

Published 5:23 pm Monday, August 23, 2021

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It was kind of sad to see, really.

At a meeting meant to inform the public about the possible annexation for Mt Laurel and Highland Lakes into the city of Chelsea, Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer was forced to show up and defend himself.

The meeting, which was held at Double Oak Community Church in Mt Laurel, brought residents of the community together with different leaders from the community, including Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks and Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd.

Picklesimer, however, was forced to defend himself and the city following comments of him turning down an invite, while others have tried denying him access to different community groups looking to inform them of what the city is trying to do.

Picklesimer said he did not receive an invitation from the meeting’s organizers to attend, referencing a social media post that indicated he had declined an invitation.

“I felt like it was imperative that I be here to let you know that was not true,” he said during the meeting.

He then went on to say his goal was to simply try and keep the nearly 4,600 students who already attend Chelsea High School together.

For those who live in the unincorporated communities of Mt Laurel and Highland Lakes, it is clear that their property value is already high enough and there may not be much incentive to join the city of Chelsea, but Picklesimer hasn’t forced them to do that and won’t.

His entire goal is to help Chelsea start a city school system to do what is best for the city and help it take the next step forward.

With that, he of course wants to keep the students currently enrolled, which would require annexing those unincorporated areas off Dunnavant Valley Road, but moving forward with the school system doesn’t require that.

His only goal and the goal of the city is to keep people informed throughout the process.

Picklesimer rightfully showed some frustration at some jumping to the conclusion that he didn’t want to be there, and even admitted he doesn’t know if there is a path forward for those communities to join Chelsea right now.

But Picklesimer and the county leaders just want to make sure residents know what would happen should they decide to join or not join.

There is no pressure from either side, it all comes down to personal preference with perks either way.

Chelsea’s room for growth is immense and would include a new state-of-the-art high school soon with an economy that is set to explode.

On the other side, remaining unincorporated means those students get to attend a remarkable group of Oak Mountain schools and won’t have to pay the taxes to fund Chelsea’s new endeavor.

If we can just listen to one another, listen to our leaders and then make an informed decision on our own rather than acting like high schoolers, it would make the process go a lot smoother, and you’ll likely get what you are wanting anyway.