May 1, 2014 10:38:28 AM
The Mississippi Court of Appeals overturned Tuesday a judge's order to the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors to re-open Co-Op Road.
Board attorney Tim Hudson informed supervisors of the ruling during their Wednesday meeting. The court's 8-1 decision was based on a failure of the residents who appealed to do so at least 10 days after the board's resolution in October 2011. A county circuit court judge ordered supervisors to re-open the road and restore it to county specifications of condition in February 2013, finding that the published notice of a public hearing for the road closure had been insufficient.
The county responded by appealing to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. It voted to re-open the road, which runs alongside the Columbus Co-Op in District 2, in May 2013.
Local attorney Hal McClanahan, representing his own family and another family who owned land and rights of way near the area in question, filed a motion last month against the county and two railroad companies for not repairing and re-opening the road's rail crossing. The motion also contended there was no public notice given before the county entered into an agreement with BNSF Railway Company to close the road if the company would repair and widen the adjacent Bethel Road crossing from 10 to 20 feet and re-close the Co-Op crossing.
County road manager Ronnie Burns said the area in question serves fewer than 10 homes.
Contacted after the meeting Wednesday, McClanahan said he would speak to his clients before deciding whether to appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which has to agree to hear the case if it's filed.
McClanahan argues that since supervisors voted last May to re-open the road, it's open. Hudson said the court's ruling renders the circuit judge's decision moot and that the road is re-abandoned.
"We can't be in contempt of an order that's vacated," Hudson said.
Bond option renewed
Supervisors also renewed a resolution that will give them authority to issue up to $30 million in bonds for infrastructure upgrades over the next two years. They will have the option during that time to issue one or more bonds at any time over the next two years if the potential for economic development projects arise.
County leaders have adopted similar resolutions twice over the last four years but have not exercised the option, instead finding other financing mechanisms for industrial development.
Supes approve advertising for Riverwalk connector, shooting range bids
Supervisors also approved to advertise for bids for sidewalk connections between the Riverwalk and soccer complex. The Mississippi Department of Transportation awarded $500,000 to build the sidewalks and will open bids from contractors June 17.
They also agreed to advertise locally for dirt bids for a shooting range being built at the old Maxim Medical property now owned by the city of Columbus and the county. The Golden Triangle Development LINK successfully applied for a $1,053,000 military base enhancement grant. Both entities must match more than $30,000 in land donations and $275,000 in in-kind services, which will involve doing some of the work in-house. Construction is set to be complete in October for the range, which will benefit the Columbus Air Force Base.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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