On Wednesday afternoon, D'Iberville's city manager was visibly upset.
"We will win because Biloxi is wrong," said Richard Rose. "They are dead wrong in what they're trying to do."
City growth for D'Iberville and Biloxi is headed for a battle that will likely end up in court. The city of Biloxi has taken the first step toward annexation and part of the area is land D'Iberville wants.
D'Iberville filed court papers last month to annex a little more than two square miles to the northwest of its current city limits. Back in June, people living along Oakridge Place learned plans were underway to change their addresses from Harrison County to D'Iberville. A month later news came that this very same street could instead become part of Biloxi.
Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway says his city needs room to grow.
He said, "We had to respond to D'Iberville's annexation plans. We think that's interrupting our path of growth for the future of the city of Biloxi, so we're doing an annexation."
Biloxi wants to annex a 12-square-mile area. Within that area are the 2.2 square miles D'Iberville has already petitioned to annex.
D'Iberville is already providing water and sewer service to the area it wants to annex. Mayor Holloway says he believes Biloxi could provide better service.
D'Iberville City Manager Richard Rose says Biloxi is just making a land grab.
"They need an exit strategy to get out of Woolmarket because they haven't been providing water and sewer service to any of those people since 1999," said Rose. "They need an exit strategy. They don't need to be taking on additional lands that they can't improve and they can't support. They just need to stop."
If an annexation battle between Biloxi and D'Iberville ends up in court, D'Iberville's city manager says he has no doubt his city will win. But he says such a fight would hurt East Harrison County.
"What Biloxi has done, or will do if they file annexation in this area, is stop all growth in Eastern Harrison in this area," said Rose. "Because an annexation fight could last five, six, seven years. And that would mean that these developers, these land owners, the people that need housing north of the Interstate won't see any."
Rose says the Public Service Commission is not likely to allow any water/sewer expansion until an annexation case is settled.
Mayor Holloway says, "The courts will decide what will happen."
He says he expects the city council to officially vote on the annexation at next month's meeting. He says the proposed area includes the new D'Iberville High School but should not affect school zoning.