Banker: OG City boosters killed project

A Hattiesburg banker blames supporters of Oak Grove incorporation for squashing his plans for a major economic development center in that area.

Ed Langton says because of that organization, any economic development projects in Oak Grove could face serious problems in the future.

"We were assured on numerous occasions there would be no objections."

Grand Bank CEO Ed Langton says he was planning on building a new Grand Bank and multi-level retail establishment on the corner of Oak Grove Road and Highway 11, and was requesting to be voluntarily annexed into the city of Hattiesburg.

"When you have a multi-level retail property, you need city services."

But Langton says at the last minute, on a Friday at 3 pm to be exact, he was notified that supporters of Oak Grove incorporation stepped in with a court order objecting to his annexation request — virtually tossing his plans out.

"It's just the feasibility," he says. "Because they waited so long to object, we lost our GO Zone tax incentives."

Without GO Zone incentives and with his project tied up in the court system, the Hattiesburg banker says his project was dead in the water, thanks to supporters of Oak Grove incorporation.

"People don't realize when they sign that petition, they are signing a blank check," he says. "You don't know what it will cost you in taxes or for what amount."

Langton says even if Oak Grove was made a city in the near future, it would take years for it to be able to provide municipal services comparable to the city of Hattiesburg — which could in fact hinder commercial development for years to come.