Canton considering annexing Nissan plant

Published 2:31 am Sunday, May 8, 2011

Canton officials are seeking a state court ruling on annexing the nearby Nissan Motor Co. plant.

City Attorney Barbara Blackmon said Nissan is getting police and fire protection from the city and the use of city roads.

Based on law passed in 2000, Canton cannot annex the Nissan site for the first 30 years without the company’s consent. The company pays a fee in lieu of property taxes to the Canton Public School District and county.

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Before the plant was built near the city, the city had wanted to annex the land, but Nissan threatened to back out of the deal.

The city filed a lawsuit this week against Nissan of North America in Madison County Circuit Court, asking whether an agreement made by the previous mayor and aldermen not to annex Nissan is still binding.

“Nissan has all the public services, police and fire protection and the use of roads, and the board felt they should pay their fair share of taxes,” city attorney Barbara Blackmon said.

“Nissan has lived up to the commitments it has made to the state, county and city (of Canton),” said Nissan spokesman Steve Parrett.

Nissan has operated the $1.4 billion Canton plant since May 2003. Company officials recently announced plans to increase production from four to six vehicles at the plant, which has 3,300 employees.

City officials said they believe an international industrial giant such as Nissan should assist a community the size of Canton.

“We hope this can be amicably resolved in a way that Nissan benefits as well as the city of Canton,“ Blackmon said.