Citizen group files appeal against Hattiesburg

Citizen group files appeal against Hattiesburg

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A grassroots citizen group has filed an appeal against the city of Hattiesburg and its wastewater treatment plans.

Robert Abrams and Hattiesburg Integrity Oversight, Inc. is challenging the Hattiesburg City Council's adoptions of and amendments to city ordinances in a special called meeting held on April 28.

"We're raising serious issues as to how these decisions conflict with the earlier decision by the chancery court regarding the Groundworx contract," said Michael Adelman, the attorney representing the group. "There was an earlier decision by the chancery court that invalidated or voided the original contract between Groundworx and the city. The essential framework that was held invalid before is being recreated by passing ordinances and moving that way."

Adelman said this specific appeal only deals with the decisions made in the special-called meeting, but said his clients are generally against the city using a land application wastewater treatment system.

"We're challenging those, but that's part of a larger picture of people who believe that the land application program is essentially too expensive, dangerous, intruding," he said. "The people I represent, I think, are opposed to the land application program, very much so, for a variety of reasons. Affordability, what it will do to the environment, and I that people in Lamar County are opposed to it. So there are those very basic issues."

Adelman said this appeal process is unique because he is essentially working to create a record of the special called meeting, called a bill of exceptions.

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree has to sign the bill of exceptions before Adelman could file the appeal in circuit court and have a hearing in front of a judge. DuPree said he has not read the appeal yet.

"If there's an appeal out there, that's why we live in America. America's a place where people can voice their opinions," DuPree said. "There's a freedom of speech. There's a freedom to do the things they feel like they need to do. So I haven't read it, but I'm sure I'll get a copy of it."

Adelman said his clients would ideally like to stop the land application process entirely.

"We'd like to see these ordinances set aside," he said. "We'd like to basically see the land application process stopped and look into other alternatives. that's what my people very much want. Whether or not ultimately this particular move results in a total termination of that, I can't say."