Margaritaville sues state over tidelands

Margaritaville sues state over tidelands

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A familiar argument over the question of where private property ends and state owned land begins along the beach is once again going to court. This legal battle could impact Margaritaville's plans to expand its resort in Biloxi.

Attorney Michael Cavanaugh is representing Biloxi Lodging LLC, which owns Margaritaville, in a lawsuit filed against the State of Mississippi and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

The suit will ask a judge to decide who owns parts of a piece of property on the west side of Margaritaville.

"We are in disagreement with the secretary of state where the tidelands boundary exists. The developer believes it exists a few hundred feet further south than what the secretary of state contends it is, and since we can't agree on it, we simply submit to the court, and the court decides where the line is," Cavanaugh said.

The resort wants to spend $140 million on an expansion project on the land it owns south and north of Hwy. 90.

Right now, Hosemann says the resort must enter into a tidelands lease and pay the State of Mississippi rent on all of the property on the south side. Cavanaugh wants the court to establish that only a portion of the land would be subject to rules governing what constitutes tidelands.

This legal question has been argued for years along the coast, and it's always been a tough one in East Biloxi.

"Historically, because of seafood factories and the way this land has been developed over the years, it's hard to tell exactly where the line should be and where it was at the time of statehood," according to Cavanaugh.

The developers at Margaritaville say their preference is to move forward with plans to develop on land south of the highway, but it depends on how the court rules regarding the tidelands dispute with the secretary of state.

Regardless of the outcome,  Margaritaville expects to follow through with the expansion north of Hwy. 90.

The lawsuit was filed in Harrison County Chancery Court Jan. 16. Despite the suit, Margaritaville is continuing to negotiate with Hosemann on a tidelands lease.

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