Germantown alderman seeks dialogue for independent legal counsel regarding Cordova Triangle


A Germantown alderman has suggested that the city provide funding for legal fees in an effort to use independent attorneys to review questions he has regarding the Cordova Triangle.
On Monday night, Alderman Dean Massey requested that the matter be added to the agenda of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
However, the board voted 3-2 against the effort to open the topic up for official discussion.
“Neither myself nor my administration could condone using citizen dollars for all six of us on this board to have individual counsel,” Mayor Mike Palazzolo noted. “We have a city attorney and that’s more than adequate.”
Massey argued that the “counsel that has been provided to represent the city in the matter of the Cordova Triangle is representing the mayor’s office.”
“We each have our own interests on behalf of the city,” he continued. “I think it is very important that we each receive independent legal counsel because I believe that the process and the defense that is being used is being used to protect the mayor’s administration, rather than present a very strong defense of our decision to rezone the Cordova Triangle.”
Massey said he would like a legal opinion on “matters going back years.”
“I don’t believe that the city attorney can provide the proper legal advice to us as aldermen,” he said. “I have questions that I need reviewed by independent counsel and I need the city to help fund that.”
He added that he believed the “public would support the funding of aldermen to be able to sit down and get legal advice from independent, outside counsel.”
Alderman Scott Sanders said he would “be interested in hearing more discussion” if the matter made it to the board’s agenda.
“I’m open to listen to how these funds would be allocated and put that to a vote whenever it comes up,” he said.
Alderman Rocky Janda asked City Attorney Mac McCarroll why the board members would need independent legal representation.
“That’s a political question,” McCarroll replied.
Janda continued, “I’m at a loss for why we would need to fund individual lawyers for ourselves.”
Vice Mayor Mary Anne Gibson said that if a member of the board “chose to speak in conflict with what we had been advised by our city attorney, I can see where there may be a need for a private attorney.”
“I don’t think the citizens of Germantown should pay for that,” she concluded.
The Cordova Triangle is a 20-acre chunk of land hedged by Germantown, Cordova and Neshoba roads.
Previously zoned as T4 “general urban overlay” per Germantown’s Smart Growth plan, the parcel drew attention from the board last year after an 18-month moratorium was passed on future apartment developments in the city.
The property was rezoned back to residential last October after a 3-0 vote from the board.