The board representing the Gluckstadt Fire Department will appeal a decision that will force them to give up a growing commercial area near Germantown High School recently annexed by Canton.

“I would describe it as a protective appeal,” said John Scanlon, the attorney for the South Madison County Fire District  Board of Commissioners. The commissioners voted to appeal last Monday’s decision by the Board of Supervisors.

“The district board is very appreciative of the support the (Board of Supervisors) has shown it over the years, and we certainly don’t see this as a throwing down of the gauntlet to challenge the board’s decision,” he said. “The district just wants to protect its rights going forward, and this is the avenue of redress the law allows.”

Scanlon said he has yet to actually file the appeal after the vote on Thursday, but plans to do so within the 10 days allowed by state law.

The Board of Supervisors heard from representatives of both Canton and the fire district during a public hearing.

Scanlon said the 8 mills levied by the district on the 30 parcels of land in the disputed currently generates $3,361 for the district.

But the long-term ramifications loom large, as a soon-to-open apartment complex and several other site plans for businesses in the area have already been approved. A new John Deere equipment facility is already open in the area.

Canton argued that the residents and businesses would be double-taxed for fire protection.

A convince store owner in the area submitted a letter to the Board of Supervisors saying he was willing to pay an additional $1,656 in taxes to remain double-covered by Canton and Gluckstadt.

Canton Mayor William Truly spoke on behalf of the city and argued that by denying Canton’s request, the board would set a dangerous precedent.

“If you deny this request,” Truly said. “You’ll have to deny the next request from Madison or the pending request from Ridgeland over their latest annexation announced recently.

“We’re making the same request the cities of Madison or Ridgeland would make in the same situation.”

The area, which is right off I-55 near Germantown High School, runs from Church Road to the south and Sowell Road to the north, is mostly undeveloped but does include the convenience store, the new John Deere dealership and an apartment complex under construction.

Eddie Price, chairman of the fire district board, appeared at the public hearing alongside attorney Scanlon.

They argued that the businesses currently located — or soon to be located — in the area do not mind being double-taxed if it means solid fire protection.

They presented the signed letter from UTTAM, LLC convenience store operator Jay Gosain saying he does not mind the double-protection or double-taxation and does not wish the de-annexation to go through.

The Gluckstadt Fire Department began serving the area three decades ago.

“Our concerns are multifaceted,” Scanlon told the supervisors. “The area has been served by this fire district since 1988, and when Canton annexed this area in 2008, there was an agreement in place that the area would primarily be served by the South Madison Fire District, with Canton’s municipal fire district serving as a supplementary service.”

Scanlon also provided supervisors with testimony from former Canton Mayor Fred Esco, Jr. from the time of the annexation where he agreed to those terms.

The city of Ridgeland had a similar issue two years ago when it annexed everything south of North Livingston Road and everything west of Livingston Road. At that time, that area was served by the Southwest Madison County Fire District.

“I’ve got to be impartial in these kinds of disputes,” County Fire Coordinator Minor Norman said. “I understand the concerns of the South Madison Fire District, but Canton isn’t doing anything that the city of Madison or the city of Ridgeland wouldn’t do. The double-taxation is a real issue.”

Until recently, all decisions over the districts were left to the fire commission board, which granted Ridgeland’s request. Since that time, the state Legislature voted to give that authority to the Board of Supervisors, which is why they received the de-annexation request.

Members of the board had expressed hope that the two sides would come to a mutual agreement without the public hearing and the board’s vote.

Scanlon said Canton officials balked at an agreement that would have split the disputed area between the two districts. Truly could not be reached for comment.