Vancleave citizen group pushes to incorporate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Vancleave citizen group pushes to incorporate

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) -

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Some Vancleave residents want official borders protecting their community. They held a rally Saturday to discuss making Vancleave its own city. This movement started three years ago when Vancleave residents saw their community lay in the path of Jackson County growth.

"With Ocean Springs and Gautier as growing cities, about the only place they could grow was north," said Vancleave Incorporation Committee President Jeffery Morrison. "And that's right toward us."

The committee set up shop at the gazebo in front of Vancleave High School Saturday and shared information with a handful of people who dropped by to hear their progress. Recent news that Ocean Springs could annex the land surrounding the Preserve Golf Course, that currently has a Vancleave address, drew concerned citizens like Roy Buxton.

"I don't want Vancleave to be annexed by Ocean Springs," said Buxton. "I don't mind Vancleave becoming a city, but we need to do it on our own."

The northern encroachment of Gautier and Ocean Springs also has former coach David Lipscomb convinced now is the time to incorporate.

"At this point in time, I think that this is the right time for us to start maybe making that move to do this on our own without these outside influences," Lipscomb said.

Committee members said they have poured $45,000 in donated funds into a feasibility study on incorporation. Slaughter and Associates, a Jackson-based company, is conducting the study which residents said is one-third complete. 

"We have a blank canvas," said Morrison. "We can build the city we so choose."

The Vancleave Volunteer Fire Department protects more than 200 square miles of land.  Committee members said incorporating that entire area just isn't feasible. Instead, they've focused their sights on a smaller area.

"We're just trying to lock maybe four to five square miles," said Morrison. "What we call the heart of the city and incorporate that, so that we can have our identity. And it will also give us more of a voice in the future if other threats try to incorporate the areas closest to us."

Morrison said right now, money is the biggest challenge to moving forward with incorporation.

"We need another $80,000 to $90,000 to get these studies completed, get this into the courts to where the judge can actually hear our case."

Morrison said he believes the residents of Vancleave have a strong case, but he said it's essential they act fast.

"We don't want to create fear, but there's a concern that if we don't act quickly," said Morrison. "It's a possibility that we could start seeing other cities eating away at the margins of Vancleave."

Leaders said no exact map has been drawn, but they should have proposed city limits by the end of the summer. 

For more information, click here to email the group.

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