LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The City of Bellevue Executive Committee and city leadership formally announced incorporation plans to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning.
They presented a map of the proposed city, which would include 15 square miles and about 6,200 residents, for the first time. The city would include Canebrake, Sandstone, Bridgefield, The Refuge and Bellegrass among others.
City leadership now needs 66 percent of registered voters in the proposed area to a sign a petition to move forward with incorporation.
"The requirement is for us to go out and get the support of the people," said John Adcock, a real estate developer and investor and Bellevue's mayor. "We have to have two-thirds of registered voters sign the petition in order to file it. I think we're going to do a lot better than that. I think we're going to have the overwhelming support of the community."
The petition required a list of five alderpeople before it could be singed. Those are Robert Donnell, a CPA, Patricia Nelson, a Legal secretary and legal assistant, Brantley Fryfogle, an engineer at Kyneteks and coordinator of network and infrastructure services at William Carey University, Tim Ryan, a financial adviser, and Paul McCarthy, an owner and chairman of a computer software company.
The same five also make up the city's executive committee with the addition of Barbara Wilson, a real estate agent and director of Bellegrass subdivision, David Oliver, a real estate developer and investor, and David West, a former Bellevue business owner and now missionary.
"This committee believes that incorporation is the natural and logical next step for our community to move into the future," Adcock said."That gives the people in the community, specifically in Bellevue, it puts them in the driver's seat."
Adcock said self-governance would also allow the city of Bellevue to retain more Lamar County sales tax, improve the city's fire rating and improve public safety by creating a police department.
As far as what this might cost residents, Adcock said the millage is expected to be average for a city this size.
"I think people are going to discover that the anticipated millage, whatever that might be in the future, is not going to be what they might anticipate," Adcock said. "I think we're looking somewhere between 30 to 40 mills which is very reasonable for a community this size."
District Four Supervisor Phillip Carlisle said he has and will continue to support the Bellevue leadership.
"I told them I would always support them as long as they have the best interest of Lamar County, and I believe that they really do," Carlisle said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't be sticking my neck out and supporting them."
Chad Mask, the lawyer for the city of Bellevue, says after the petition is signed, the next step is to send it to Lamar County Chancery Court.
"That will start the technical, legal proceedings," Mask said. "At that point, there will be a Chancery Court proceeding, a trial that sort of thing. We'll go through the court process in front of a chancellor."
Mask said the timeline for the potential city completely depends on if and when the city leaders get petition signatures.After that, he says court proceedings can anywhere from a couple of months to a year.
"It's hard to predict how long the court proceedings, you know, how much opposition you get, the length of the litigation and the trial of these matters can sometimes take a couple, several weeks," Mask said.
Seven on Your Side reported in April that Hattiesburg was discussing an annexation of part of Lamar County, but Mask said as of Wednesday he "wasn't aware of a pending Hattiesburg annexation."
When asked if he expected an push back from Hattiesburg, Marks said, "I don't represent Hattiesburg, so I really don't know. You know, you never know."