Biloxi city council members are divided on a controversial annexation issue expected to come up for a vote next month. This week, Mayor A.J. Holloway announced plans to annex 12 square miles, including an area D'Iberville also wants to annex. If the plans move ahead leaders in both cities expect to end up in a court battle.
Two Biloxi council members, Bill Stallworth and Tom Wall, told WLOX News they favor annexation to protect the city's growth pattern. Four others were either undecided or unwilling to say. Staunchly opposed is Ward 7's David Fayard who represents Woolmarket, an area annexed in 1999.
"This is supposed to be a ditch where the culvert comes out," said Dawn Goodwin, a Woolmarket resident.
Goodwin says the ditch that runs behind her house hasn't been cleaned since Biloxi took over Woolmarket eight years ago.
"I think it's just a matter of not wanting to invest the finances out here. And, unfortunately, the people who are out here have been out here so long, we've taken care of ourselves," Goodwin said.
Not far from Goodwin's home, we found Biloxi public works crews hard at work cleaning out drainage ditches. Biloxi officials say the city is waiting on permits to begin installing water and sewer lines there. Until that happens, some Woolmarket residents say Biloxi shouldn't annex anything else.
Monica Lanson said, "I think they should be out here, working here first before they even think of taking anybody else on."
"We've got pretty good police protection. Got a good fire department they've done," said Art Harris. "But other than that, I haven't seen anything."
Dawn Goodwin showed us a request form dated August 21, 2006 to have the city clean the ditch. As long as Dawn Goodwin is still waiting, she says she won't support Biloxi spreading its resources over an even larger area.
Goodwin said, "If they can't handle these responsibilities, they certainly don't need to take on more."
Biloxi officials said they would not seek to annex the 12 mile area if they felt the city could not handle it. As for Woolmarket, Mayor A.J. Holloway says, "More progress has been made in the past several years than at any other time in the history of Woolmarket. Last year, the city installed a million-gallon elevated water tank as one of the first steps in bringing water service to the area."