Supreme Court to hear arguments in cities’ annexation squabble

The Mississippi Supreme Court building in Jackson. Photo by STEPHEN McDILL / Mississippi Business Journal

Mississippi Supreme Court

BILOXI and GULFPORT — An annexation case pitting Gulfport against Biloxi is headed to oral arguments July 22 before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Biloxi and Gulfport have been battling over the same territory since 2009, especially along the new Mississippi Highway 605 corridor. Harrison County has also opposed the annexation.

The 2.5-square-mile area that Gulfport wants to annex includes more than one square mile owned by developer James Frisby. Frisby’s Pitcher Point Investments had struck an agreement with Gulfport to bring city services to his property, where a master-planned community known as Belle la Vie is proposed.

The city of Biloxi argues in court documents that for Gulfport to reach Frisby’s property it included in its annexation a one-half square mile wide strip of unincorporated territory running along Biloxi’s western and northern boundaries.

At the time, there were approximately 133 people and several businesses in the area Gulfport proposed to annex between its existing city limits and the Frisby property, according to court documents.

Biloxi officials argue that in the middle of a trial on the annexation, Gulfport sought to amend documents related to municipal services to the Frisby property and Biloxi said it was unprepared to respond to the changes.

In June 2011, a Harrison County judge sided with Biloxi and dismissed Gulfport’s annexation case.

Chancery Judge Thomas L. Zebert said he would not allow Gulfport to alter its plans for the delivery of municipal improvements in the middle of the trial.

Zebert said the city should adopt a new annexation ordinance, file an amended petition and republish public notices as required by law.

Attorneys for Gulfport argue in the city’s appeal that Biloxi has its eyes on the same piece of property.

Gulfport argues in its appeal that the new documents it filed did not alter the area to the annexed. The city said it sought to update things such as engineering plans and cost estimates for the providing of services.

 

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