Miss. Supreme Court affirms ruling on Petal annexation

Miss. Supreme Court affirms ruling on Petal annexation
In January 2019, a judge denied the majority of Petal's proposed annexation of land in Forrest County. (Source: Gray News)

PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a judge’s 2019 ruling denying the majority of a proposed annexation by Petal.

In 2016, the City of Petal sought to annex six tracts of land in Forrest County.

The six areas included:

  1. Land along the Evelyn Gandy Parkway stretching from Petal north-westward past Interstate 59.
  2. Industrial land north of Petal along Highway 11.
  3. A city road that ends in a county cul-de-sac.
  4. Land along Highway 42 running from Petal east to the county line.
  5. Land southeast of Petal where parcels or lots were split between the city and county line.
  6. Land south of Petal extending south past Sunrise Road.

The Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Special Chancellor Robert L. Lancaster to hear the case after chancellors in the Tenth Chancery Court District recused themselves.

Area 1 included neighborhoods in Glendale and portions of the Glendale Utility District. Lancaster denied the annexation request for this area in November 2016.

The remaining five areas, which consisted of about 6 square miles, went to trial.

Residents, companies and groups opposed the annexation of the remaining five areas and presented evidence at the trial.

The city argued the areas would benefit from the city’s services and proposed infrastructure improvements and projects.

Those opposing annexation argued the areas' needs were already met by the county and the city’s involvement, with added restrictions and costs, was not necessary or wanted.

The trial concluded after six days of testimony in December 2018.

On Jan. 15, Lancaster denied the city’s proposed annex of Areas 2, 4 and 6, which consisted of an industrial area and two mostly undeveloped and unpopulated areas.

Lancaster granted the annexation of Areas 3 and 5 to correct property line errors created during the city’s 2003 annex. Areas 3 and 5 consisted of about .7 acres and .2 square miles, according to court documents.

Lancaster ruled the city did not prove that the annexation of Areas 2, 4 and 6 was reasonable, determining that the city already had enough available land for residential and commercial development and that updating zoning and improving infrastructure would be more beneficial to the city and its residents.

Petal appealed the ruling, but the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Lancaster’s ruling was supported by “substantial and credible evidence.”

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