Biloxi-D'Iberville annexation court fight centers on city services

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Three men showed up in Harrison County Court Friday morning, hoping for the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the annexation dispute between Biloxi and D'Iberville.

However, Judge Thomas Zebert announced that after all the evidence is presented in the annexation trial, he will allow a ten-day window for residents in the disputed area to submit letters to him.

"Just write a letter to me. Tell me why you do want to be in there. Why you don't want to be in there," said Judge Zebert of Rankin County.

Even though Billy Broadus lives in Woolmarket, he plans to put his frustrations on paper.

"I'm not for annexation period, unless the people can vote on it," said Broadus.

Then, D'Iberville continued presenting its case, putting the head of the D'Iberville Parks and Recreation Department on the stand.  Mike Mullins testified that he has enough personnel and equipment to handle expanded recreational services, if his city is allowed to grow.

"Yes sir, a lot of people already play in our facility," said Mullins.

However, the attorney for Biloxi questioned Mullins about park projects in D'Iberville.

Chad Mask asked, "The city of D'Iberville has not built one single park in the area they annexed in 2004 has it?"

"No sir, we haven't," Mullins responded.

D'Iberville's Public Works Director also testified, stating that his department is ready to extend service to more homes in the proposed 11.3 square mile annexation zone.

"I estimate around 60 percent of the homes in the proposed annex area are already served by our water and sewer system," said Al Gombos.

Because of scheduling issues, the judge has recessed the case until June 17th.  That's when the city manager and urban planning consultants for the city of D'Iberville are expected to take the stand.

Attorneys say once the trial wraps up in June, the judge may not announce a decision until several months later.

Anyone interested in writing to the judge about the annexation case can send the letter to this address:

Chancery Clerk of Harrison County
Attention: Judge Thomas Zebert
P.O. Box 544
Biloxi, MS  39533

By the way, Harrison County is also a party to the annexation lawsuit. The county opposes annexation by either city.

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