Walmart proposal sparks annexation, Bellevue incorporation discussion

Walmart proposal sparks annexation, Bellevue incorporation discussion

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The possibility of a Walmart Supercenter being built in Lamar County has Hattiesburg City Council and potential city of Bellevue leaders discussing who should lead the future development of Highway 98.

Both Hattiesburg Council President Kim Bradley and potential Bellevue Mayor John Adcock said they are excited about new growth, but neither thinks a Walmart should be built next to Canebrake.

"I live in Canebrake, and I live in the front of Canebrake," Adcock said. "I think there could probably be a better spot for something like that. I share a lot of the concerns that people expressed yesterday. I think they're very reasonable questions. I think that the county supervisors are going to have to do their work to answer those questions."

Bradley said, "I certainly would not agree with Walmart locating in that particular spot if that was in the city of Hattiesburg. For the folks that live out that way, especially those in Canebrake, I know that this is something that they don't want, something that they never thought would happen, and I would be concerned. I can understand their concerns because I would feel the same way that they feel."

However, Adcock and Bradley disagree on whether Hattiesburg or the potential city of Bellevue would be the better city to direct Highway 98's growth.

Adcock said this development project only highlights the need for Bellevue to become a city.

"I think what people need to realize is, when there's so much growth taking place in a small area, in a community, it's really important that the decision making is consolidated, focused and comes out of that community," Adcock said. "There's going to be more and more sales tax coming to the Bellevue area, whether it's Walmart or whatever it is, and it's important to know that we have a decision to make right now. We can either get in front of the change and get in front of the growth and have a say so in it, or we can stand by and be at the mercy of it."

Bradley said Hattiesburg would have to oppose Bellevue's incorporation petition because it would block the city from expanding west, something he said he has wanted to see happen for awhile.

"I think the city has been slow in responding out that way and moving," Bradley said. "I believe a lot of it is tied to the administration and wanting just to take the commercial corridor. I don't think that's right. I think you have to take the residential areas as you go."

But Bradley said he thinks the Walmart proposal may make Hattiesburg speed up its annexation plans.

"My intention is that we address this now," Bradley said. "We have hired an attorney who has represented us before. He is due to be here in Hattiesburg with us. it was to be this month. Hopefully, it still will be this month for us to gather a game plan."

Bradley said that Hattiesburg is also discussing annexation along Highway 49 and Evelyn Gandy Parkway. He said he is not only focused on incorporating the commercial developments, but also the residential areas that are already using the city's waste water system. Bradley said that would not include the large subdivisions that would be included in the potential city of Bellevue.

"The city if Hattiesburg offers nothing to a resident of Canebrake," Bradley said. "I mean, they're paying association fees. They're paying school taxes, county taxes. What could the city of Hattiesburg offer them? Really nothing."

Adcock said the people in those neighborhoods should have a voice.

"Our position is not anti-Hattiesburg," Adcock said. "We anticipate being very good neighbors with Hattiesburg. What I would say to that is that the people who live in Bellevue have a right to make the decisions for Bellevue."

For now, the Lamar County Board of Supervisors will make the final decision about the Walmart proposal. The Lamar County Planning Commission has a meeting in December to decide whether or not to recommend the proposal to the board.