LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Potential Bellevue leaders have pulled their plans for incorporation in Lamar County, for now.
A motion to withdraw incorporation petitions and dismiss the case was filed in Lamar County Chancery Court on Friday.
"We feel like we were in the margin of error originally, we just want to go back and make sure we remove the margin for error now," said John Adcock, the potential mayor for the proposed City of Bellevue.
Adcock said the inconsistency of Lamar County voter rolls and data since the recent presidential election could be to blame for the signatures not matching up to the total number needed for incorporation.
"The voter roll may not be the same today as the day we file, and that's what we have to deal with," Adcock said. "But, we do feel like we need to get a few more signatures to sew it up and be successful."
To incorporate, Adcock and other potential leaders need signatures from two-thirds of registered voters in the proposed area on the day the petition is filed. Adcock has never released the actual number of signatures on the petition that was filed in Lamar County earlier this year, but has repeatedly said he was confident with the number.
"We felt very confident back in May when we filed the petition originally, but since then, since the Presidential election, the voter roll has been changed, you have new voters registered to vote," said Adcock. "But since then, the voter roll has been purged, it's been changed, you have new voters registered to vote. We just feel like we are working with more accurate information and we looked at it and we made the decision it was the prudent thing to do to to be sure we were correct and go back and get a few more signatures."
The Concerned Citizens of Bellevue, a group of residents against the incorporation, said there were not enough accurate signatures this summer.
"We found quite a number of irregularities, to the tune of about one thousand and I think that's the reason they've come back because they saw our work and saw how short they were," said Betty Arnold, Chairman of The Concerned Citizens of Bellevue.
Arnold said members of the group have gone through the 4,100-page petition from the Lamar County Chancery Court. She said there were a number of "unusual" signatures, including duplicates, signatures from individuals who were not registered to vote and others who did not live in the proposed area.
She said that information was turned over in the discovery period that has been underway with the attorney for The Concerned Citizens and the Incorporators. This period was set by a judge in September, prior to the jurisdictional trial for the incorporation that was set for May.
"This has been going on for three years now, they haven't gotten enough signatures in three years," said Arnold. "Are we just going to keep counting the Chad's until we get enough?"
Adcock said there is not a specific time for when he hopes to file a the petition again for incorporation, but said he is "optimistic" of the future for the City of Bellevue.
"This is just all part of the process that you have to go through, it's a challenging part of the process, but we are close and we think we will get it done," Adcock said.