Annexation Battle Brewing?

Ocean Springs wants to move its small town charm to the north. But not everyone who lives in the areas that Ocean Springs is eyeing wants to become a city resident. A showdown could be in the works between the city and those who want to remain in the county.

Ocean Springs has stretched its boundaries to the east. Now the mayor says the commercial potential of Highway 609,  just north of the city,  makes it a wise investment because of the taxes the businesses generate. But the people who live around the area say Ocean Springs has nothing to offer them.

"We already have the best schools, the best water, the best sports facilities. We have an outstanding fire department. There's nothing they can bring to us but taxes. We don't need the city. Nothin' against the city, but we don't need 'em," says St. Martin resident Johnny Beck.

The mayor says expanding the city limits is part of the 20 year comprehensive growth plan. He says it was choice of annexing or risk losing an opportunity to grow.

"Because of the recent group of incorporators who wanted to organize and incorporate the St. Martin area, we felt we needed to move as a strategic plan to keep from blocking the path of growth in the City of Ocean Springs," Ainsworth says.

That's a move the West Jackson County Petition of Incorporation Committee plans to fight. Next Monday night at the St. Martin Community Center, the group will gauge just how much support there is to form a new city.

Committee member Ted Ruemke says, "We're going to have petitions available for citizens, registered voters or not, you can register there, to sign the petitition to incorporate the city."

Ruemke says they have about 24-hundred signatures already. They need a total of 5,100 to get the required two thirds of the registered voters.

"If we get that number, yes, we're going to compete with Ocean Springs. If we can't get that number I don't know what's gonna happen."

The citizens meeting is Monday, September 9 at the St. Martin Community Center.  It starts at 6:30pm.