Bartlett man denounces 2012 annexation, demands to be de-annexed

The Great Seal of Bartlett, TennesseeAfter Bartlett’s leaders approved routine business at the city’s July 14 city board meeting, an irate citizen took his turn at the podium and gave the mayor and board a piece of his mind.

Murphy Farley is fed up with how the city’s annexation of his neighborhood is affecting him, and he’s quite serious when he says he is not going to take it any longer.

In an interview several days before the meeting, Farley said he does not subscribe to a newspaper and never saw a notice about annexations of his property and others in parts of unincorporated Shelby County in 2012. When he got a city garbage can was the first he heard of it, Farley said.

“I’m disappointed in Bartlett completely,” he said.

Another angry Bartlett resident, James Harmon, backed up Farley, saying he also didn’t know about the annexation until it was a done deal.

Farley is a Bartlett native and lives on Billy Maher Road south of Old Brownsville Road. His roots in Bartlett are deep. In fact, he and his wife were Mr. and Miss Bartlett High School in 1961. But today, he says he has to pay taxes but not get anything in return. He ticked off the things he didn’t need from the city: he had fire service from the county, patrols from the sheriff’s department, and well water.

He said he did eventually change over to Shelby County water* rather than using his well, but nothing else has changed and he thinks the city’s annexation was a raw deal for him and neighbors.

“Bartlett hadn’t given us one thing but a $26.50 garbage bill and a $3,000 to $4,000 tax bill,” Farley said. “It’s enough to run you out.”

He used his three minutes of public speech to denounce the annexation, which has recently irritated him by a code requirement to mow a field as low as city properties, when he has in the past used that land to cut hay.

He demanded that the city explain what he gets from the annexation or else de-annex him.

“I’ve got a high schools education, but I’ve got common sense, and I’ll debate any of them anywhere, anytime,” he said in an interview a few days before the meeting. “The only reason they annex you is to get your tax money so they can annex somebody else.”

He fired off a week’s worth of brusque emails to mayor Keith McDonald before the meeting while McDonald tried to convey the city’s point of view. Although the mayor and board members usually don’t respond to citizens’ public commentary at the end of a meeting, McDonald did note that the city followed the annexation legal requirements in place at the time, and Farley has access to municipal services that he’s been fortunate not to need (such as city fire and police responses).

Farley continued to make his point of view crystal clear, however: The city may have done what is legal, but it wasn’t right.

McDonald also said he would closely monitor some de-annexation legislation that may come before the state General Assembly, and he wished Farley well.

General business

Before the fiery confrontation, the board and mayor moved briskly through a fast-paced agenda of financial votes, an appointment to office, contract approvals and other routine business.

The city board voted to issue general obligation capital outlay notes up to $1,064,000, if approved by the director of state and local finance (within the Office fo the Comptroller for the state of Tennessee) for annual capital improvement projects.

The city’s June 10 request for a revenue anticipation loan of $8 million was approved by the state’s Comptroller of the Treasury, Office of State and Local Finance. The city will issue tax and revenue anticipation notes to provide funding for the General Purpose School Fund. Approval is contingent on passage of the city’s FY2016 budget that includes this fund. Repayment will be due no later than June 30, 2016. The money will be used to fund school district operations in anticipation of sales tax revenue. This is needed until the new district is able to build up a reserve.

The city also agreed to accept a grant of up to $70,000 from Shelby County 911 Emergency Communications District and adjust the FY2016 grants budget to appropriate the funds and authorize the purchase of equipment.

The money will be used to purchase and install the Vision Air CAD system, including the “courtview/jailview” reporting software module from ADSI Inc.

Jason Sykes was chosen and sworn in as the new director of the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center (BPACC). He will start work at the BPACC in August. [Editor’s note: See our separate story on Sykes in this issue.]

In other business, the board:

  • Deleted uncollectible property taxes from the city’s tax rolls. The city wrote off $10,609.54 of delinquent and uncollectible taxes dating from tax years 1997-2002 (past the statute of limitations). The list of properties are on pages 197-198 of the July 14 agenda at
  • Appointed Polly Schrimper to the BPACC Advisory Board. She will fill the position vacated by Leanne Braddock. Her term will expire Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Accepted the Planning Commission Report for July 2015. In the report, the Planning Commission approved:
    • A 6,700-square-foot addition to the Compass Self Storage Site at 6780 Country Park Drive, Memphis. Most of the property is within the Memphis jurisdiction, but part of it fronts onto U.S. 70 in Bartlett.
    • A change to the Bartlett Logistics Planned Development in the I-P Planned Industrial Park Zoning District. The property is at 8370, 8380, 8400, 8410 and 8420 Wolf Drive Lake. The request was to re-subdivide three existing lots to create a six-lot planned development with lot sizes ranging from 1.9 to 3.3 acres. The board also set an Aug. 11 public hearing on this matter.
    • Revisions to the site plan for Culpepper Place Assisted Living, 8480 U.S. 70. The change removes the requirement to install a six-foot shadowbox fence with brick columns along the rear property line adjacent to Cedar Hall, as long as that facility’s ence remains in place.
    • Revisions to a church’s site plan to reconfigure the 202-space parking lot to add 39 spaces, reduce the size of the northern driveway from 36 to 33 feet, increaase the curbed island adjacent to the driveway from 29.32 to 39.32 feet, modifywiden the median cut-through on Kirby-Whitten Parkway, and add an access driveway with parallel parking a long the east side of the property.
    • Construction and final plans for the McLaughlin subdivision. The property is at the southwest corner of Shadowlawn Road and Shadow Run Lane within the $S-15″ residential zoning district.
  • Approved event permits. They included:
    • The Stanky Creek 50K/25K Foot race. The event will be 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 13 at Nesbit Park (5760 Yale Road, Bartlett). Organizers anticipate there will be 125-200 runners. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit American Discovery Trail Society.
    • The 14th annual Bartlett Kids Triathlon, slated to begin 7:30 a.m. Aug. 8. The Bartlett Recreation Center will remain closed until 11 a.m. on the day of the event.
  • Approved equipment and service contracts. They included:
    • The purchase of two Lucas mechanical CPR devices for the Bartlett Fire Department for a total of $28,761.15. The purchase will be made through Physio-Control Inc., the sole source provider.
    • The renewal of two existing contracts with Herbi-Systems Inc. The first was for $62,678.40 to spray and fertilize the municipal and athletic fields for Bartlett Parks and Recreation for FY2016; the original three-year contract was approved as the low bid on June 18, 2014. The second was for $52,787.50 to spray and fertilize the Bartlett City Schools’ athletic fields for FY2016; the original contract was approved as the low bid on June 18, 2014.
    • The Bartlett Police Department’s renewal of a computer-assisted dispatch maintenance agreement with Tritech Software Systems of Castle Hayne, N.C. The total cost is $60,911.74.
    • The low bid of $56,207.17 from Benchmark Electric LLC to buy and install a new emergency generator with automatic transfer switch at Bartlett Fire Station No. 2 (5996 Memphis Arlington Road, Bartlett). The contract includes an additional amount of $7,000 that may be added if additional items are needed during construction. The generator is the Kohler brand and is a 100-kilowatt diesel-fueled model.
    • A contract for $16,100 annually with the Groundwater Institute of the University of Memphis to perform a welllhead protection study and other regional work.
    • A contract for $702,100.67 for an Apple computer equipment lease for the Bartlett City Schools. The contract covers 610 Macbook laptops with aprotection plan and 610 mini display port-to-VGA adapters.
  • Approved construction contracts. They included:
    • The low bid of $18,969 for renovating the porch at the historic Gotten House, which was built in 1871 and now serves as a museum and home of the Bartlett Historical Society. Don Austin, general contractor, was the low bidder. For details on the work needed, see the bid specifications online at
    • The low bid of $69,275 from Pro Site Construction for bond work in Gailyn Manor Subdivision and Hampton Grove North Subdivision. The contract includes an additional $7,000 for items that may need to be added during construction. The project will complete some of the remaining unfinished development work in both subdivisions. In Gailyn Manor, Phase 2 includes a detention basin clean up and grading, construction of a 4-foot side concrete swale in the basin, erosion control measures, sod and additional work as listed in the bid. In Hamptom Grove North, the work includes the partial filling in and grading of a temporary sediment basin, some clearing of trees and underbrush, installation of seeding/mulch and/or sod, erosion control measures, and other activities as noted in the bid.
    • The bid of $298,293 for Kimley-Horn to provide engineering work for widening 2.29 miles of Old Brownsville Road from Austin Peay Highway to Kirby-Whitten Road. This roadway segment near the northwest edge of the city is heavily traveled and is currently two lanes wide with some sections widened adjacent to residential developments. The project will widen both sides of the road to provide either a five-lane section (with two lanes in each direction and a two-way left turn lane in the center) or a four-lane section (with raised median and bike lanes).The east end of the project will tie into Old Brownsville Road, about 800 feet east of Kirby Whitten Road. The engineering is needed to complete the right-of-way phase and final design phase. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is reimbursing the city 80 percent of the cost, so Bartlett’s portion will be $59,659.

* Editor’s note, July 31, 2015: This version of the story was edited to correct the kind of water Mr. Farley has. He changed from well water to Shelby County water, not Bartlett city water.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to