Hancock County Annexation Battle Goes To Court

Hancock County's annexation battle went to court Monday morning. The cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland want to annex some of the same county property along Highway 603.

Annexation opponents left the court proceeding disappointed. They had hoped to present the court a petition Monday, but that didn't happen.

"We were kind of disappointed at what went on today. We thought we'd at least be able to give the judge a list of people who had signed a petition in protest, because we have more than 2,000 people who have already signed," Hancock County Resident Eileen Cowart said. "Hopefully we'll be able to at the next hearing, to let the judge know that there is a vast number of people who are strongly opposed to it. We feel it is purely a money grab on the part of Bay St. Louis."

Bay St. Louis Attorney Don Rafferty told WLOX NEWS the court proceeding went just as he expected.

"We knew there were going to be objectors. We knew there was going to be strong opposition. Today was nothing more than a formality. We expected today the judge would sit down a scheduling order, which they've done, and get this case down for trial so all parties can be prepared and all voices can be heard both 'for' and 'against'," Rafferty said.

The court proceeding lasted less than 5 minutes. A similar hearing will take place Wednesday on Waveland's annexation bid. Rafferty says he believes the first major hearing in both annexation cases won't come until December.

Meanwhile, citizens fighting the annexation attempts say they're considering hiring their own attorney.

Information gathered at the local court hearings will be turned over to Judge James Thomas, a Hattiesburg Chancery Court Judge appointed by the State Supreme Court to hear the case.

by Al Showers