Homeowners in a driveway dispute with Bay-Waveland School Board

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A Bay St. Louis couple is caught in the middle of a lawsuit over their home's driveway, which they say is the only access to their carport.

Gary Boswell and Rochelle Harper chose to purchase a house in 2008 because it was in Bay St. Louis.

"We purchased the home and have had a great time over here in Bay St. Louis, love the town, love the people," Boswell stated.

The home is just across the street from the old Second Street Elementary, and right next door to another school district building. Boswell said they shared their driveway with the school district until the district vacated the buildings in 2010.

But he said he and his wife just recently learned about the unresolved lawsuit between the Bay-Waveland School District and the previous owner of their property.

"We had no idea that there was a lawsuit pending," Rochelle Harper said. "We had a clear title and we were shocked. And it was very un-neighborly the way they didn't talk with us or didn't get us a letter to try to talk about this lawsuit... They've known about it since '03."

"We get served a summons in order for them to take us to court to try to take our driveway from us," Boswell added. "That is the only access we have to get to our carport."

Bay Waveland School District Attorney Ronnie Artigues told WLOX News the school district has been maintaining the driveway and surrounding property since the 1950s. He added, "We are working on a resolution or agreement to settle the dispute."

In May, the Bay Waveland School District entered into an agreement to sell the school property to New Orleans developer Jim MacPhaille. Boswell told me he spoke with MacPhaille on the phone Wednesday night.

"MacPhaille is more interested in just getting this behind him and us moving forward so he can start using this property," Boswell said. "He has access on the other side he can use."

I contacted MacPhaille and he told me he has no issues with Boswell and his wife. He said he doesn't sue neighbors. He wants to work with them once he closes on the property.

He added, "They can have joint usage of the driveway, or I can take some trees down and build another driveway."

MacPhaille said he purchased a school in New Orleans and negotiated with the neighbors, and that's what he plans to do in Bay St. Louis.

Jim and Katherine MacPhaille closed on the old Second Street Elementary School property on Friday. MacPhaille said he has spoken with Bay St. Louis officials who would like to see him build a hotel and high-end condos.

He also said he plans to refurbish the old school theatre and turn the old gym into a meeting place or a facility that could hold weddings.

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