Ocean Springs annexation draws hard questions from supervisors - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs annexation draws hard questions from supervisors

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County supervisors drew a line in the sand Monday with Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran.  They asked her to drop the Preserve Golf Course from the city's annexation plans.  Otherwise, board members said they would have a hard time supporting Ocean Springs' court case. 

Mayor Moran showed the Board of Supervisors an updated annexation map Monday when she briefed them on the city's case.  The city has reduced the area where it wants to expand, cutting it down to 11.5 square miles from its original 13.8 square miles.

"We have pulled back from the east side of Hwy 57," explained Moran.

Moran said the city had reached agreements with the City of Gautier, the Gulf Park Estates Fire District, and Sunplex Light Industrial Park.  She said all that remain are the Jackson County Fire District and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

Several county supervisors expressed their dissatisfaction with the annexation plans.  A big source of concern is a residential area along Hwy 57, north of I-10 that includes the Preserve Golf Club.

Supervisors said they don't want it annexed because it spans further north than Gautier's Hwy 57 border and traditionally, it's part of the Vancleave community.

"Some of our objections might go away if they didn't go any further north than where Gautier was," said District 1 Supervisor Manly Barton.  "But they've maintained that they want to go further north."

Barton and Supervisor John McKay both said they had received calls from people in their districts that oppose the annexation. 

"Areas that are traditionally part of other settings such as the Vancleave community, or where there's a section where overwhelmingly the people there don't want to be a part of the annexed area," explained Barton, "and I represent the area or I represent part of that area, I think I have an obligation to speak for those people of the county."

McKay also had concerns about drainage in the proposed area.  He said the map encompasses many low-lying areas with drainage problems that could cost Ocean Springs taxpayers.

"As a supervisor, I'm notifying you that you've got problems," said McKay.  "And as a resident of Ocean Springs, I'm telling you that you're going to have to raise my taxes to pay for it."

Moran asked the Board of Supervisors to send her their plans to improve drainage in the area, so she could include them in her considerations.  She said the area would be included in city-wide improvement plans if it is annexed.

"Right now, the city has already planned drainage improvements in the current city and we will carry those out in the annex area," said Moran.

Ten new firefighters would also begin protecting the new areas shortly after annexation, according to Moran.  The city intends to build a new fire station along Hwy 57, although no immediate plans are in place.

Moran estimates 1,500 people live within the annexation area.  District 4 Supervisor Tommy Brodnax told Moran to be prepared for a battle on their behalf.

"Go ahead and file," said Brodnax.  "And let's duke it out in court.  Because I'm committed to representing those 1,500 citizens out there.  Because they've got to have a voice in this."

"We're ready to file," said Moran.  "I'm not saying there won't be any other changes and there are some numbers that we're crunching and still looking at. But that will be up to the board and we do have an executive session later this week."

She said she estimates the city will file for annexation in Chancery Court in four to six weeks.

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