LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Lamar County residents who could become Hattiesburg citizens said Thursday they felt blindsided by the city's annexation plan.
Bill Bagwell has lived on Windlass Drive, one of the streets listed in Hattiesburg's annexation proposal, for more than 20 years. He said he was "totally surprised" by the plans.
"I feel like Hattiesburg and Hattiesburg Council has really pulled a sneaky trick on the residents of this area because this is a super little subdivision (with) very good neighbors," Bagwell said. "We're peaceful, and we prefer to be left alone."
According to a map drafted by Lamar County, Hattiesburg's annexation proposal includes more than 100 businesses along Highway 98, but only 20 homes.
"I don't want to be a resident of Hattiesburg," said Terry Smith, who has also lived on Windlass Drive for more than two decades. "I moved out here, and I could have lived in Hattiesburg. I didn't want to then, and I definitely don't want to be a part of Hattiesburg now. The entire street feels the same way. Not one person on this street wants to be annexed by the city of Hattiesburg."
Smith said he is happy with the services Lamar County provides now, and he does not expect Hattiesburg to be able to offer anything the county does not already.
"There's no benefit for us being annexed," he said. "Not any whatsoever. I want to stay just like we are. We've got a good neighborhood, good property value out here, good school district."
Smith also said he does not want to have to pay both Lamar County and Hattiesburg taxes.
Both Smith and Bagwell said they plan to work with the Lamar County Board of Supervisors to try to prevent annexation.
"I'm sure there will be some meetings come up about it, and we will be strong and represented well there to voice our opinion," Smith said.