Mary Louis Knight just wants to start a business in Shelby County. But, for the third time since May, all her application to the Shelby County Commission's Land Use and Planning Committee has done is start a ruckus among Commissioners.
Those in attendance could only shake their heads in sad disbelief as discussion about Wright's application to build a residential home for the elderly deteriorated into a shouting match of accusations among commissioners that ranged from potential Bartlett annexation plans, charges of racism and heated criticism of Commissioner Terry Roland's behavior as committee chairman. Memphis attorney Rickey Wilkins, who was hired to represent Ms. Wright, told Commissioners his client had complied with county and city regulations in building the elderly facility at the 49-hundred block of Brunswick Road, even knowing the area could be annexed by Bartlett at year's end.
"The City of Bartlett has an interest in this matter...is moving forward with an annexation effort. They may in fact at some point annex this area. That is not what the reality is today," said Wilkins.
But, after Committee Chairman Roland asked Knight and her attorney to produce receipts showing how much they'd spent on fees and permits, some African American Commissioners began to take issue with Roland's demanding tone.
"This happens to be in my district. So, therefore, I am going to get to the bottom of everything about everything," said Roland.
Finally, Commission Chairman Mike Ritz tried to set the discussion back on track.
Commissioner Heidi Shafer also tried to play the moderator, "We've got a business that wants to go forward on this. I really believe there's a way to satisfy all the concerns here."