Bude Board of Aldermen questions annexation proposal

November 09, 2021

Members of Bude’s Board of Aldermen had more questions than answers during their Tuesday, Nov. 2 monthly business meeting regarding an announcement by the Town of Meadville to annex property toward the site of a new lodge and conference center being built in the Homochitto National Forest.

About halfway through the session, Alderman Jillian Dunmore said she was completely surprised to read in The Franklin Advocate about Meadville’s annexation proposal approved by that town’s board of aldermen in October.

“I guess my question is how this annexation by Meadville will affect Bude and what does that mean for them and for us?” she queried. “I assume they are trying to get prime land next to us.”

Board attorney Mary Kathryn Williamson said the annexation of unincorporated areas into a municipality is a legal process that will have to be addressed through the local chancery court.

“During my time here, Bude has not done an annexation,” Williamson said. “By my understanding, the nearest muncipality to Meadville, which is Bude, will have to be (process) served before any court action can move forward.”

Based on the limited information she has seen, Williamson noted Meadville appears to be seeking to take in land as part of an expanded corporate jurisdiction.

“I know that my house is included in the annexation proposal, but no one has talked to me about it and I haven’t seen any plans,” she continued.

Dunmore said she is well aware of the development of the lodge and conference center by Scenic Rivers Development Alliance near the current northern boat ramp at Okhissa Lake.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that (the annexation) is about money,” Dunmore continued. “What we need to have an understanding of is how Meadville’s action might impact Bude, and I want to know and we, as a board, need to be thinking about that.”

Under the proposal, Meadville’s boundaries would take in locations on Mississippi Highway 556 from the current town limits to U.S. Highway 98 and then a short distance to the Berrytown and Yap roads intersections with U.S.98 to the lodge and conference center site.

Under Meadville’s annexation proposal, the town would offer police and fire protection services, safe drinking water and other services it has the ability to provide within the new municipal boundaries.

Among the town’s planned improvements will be water and sewer infrastructure expansion in the area that would have to be completed on or before Jan. 1, 2032.

The ordinance, which took effect with its adoption, authorizes Meadville town leaders to petition the Franklin County Chancery Court in seeking a judgment to enlarge that town’s boundaries.

Under Section 21-1-31 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, notice will be given to all parties and property owners interested in or affected by Meadville’s annexation plan, including any other existing municipality within three miles of the proposed annexation, which, in this matter, is the Town of Bude.

Bude Alderman James Griffith said he was seeking clarification as to Meadville’s boundaries under the proposal.

“That’s a considerable amount of land they are looking at taking in,” Griffith said.

Williamson again noted the town will have to be legally served with court papers that will give aldermen an opportunity to have their questions addressed and views on the annexation heard.

“I don’t think any of it can go through without following those proper channels,” she added. “And I haven’t heard of anyone that has been served yet.”

Bude Mayor Linda Green said, as of last week’s meeting, she had not received any filings related to the proposal by Meadville.

Dunmore said she was curious as to the thoughts of those living in the affected area — as to whether or not they favor or oppose the annexation effort by Meadville.

Williamson said Bude leaders were certainly within their rights — along with any residents in the proposed annexation area — to have their views on Meadville’s annexation proposal heard in court.

In other action, the Bude Board of Aldermen:

• Approved the resignation of Clara McGehee, who was serving as interim deputy town clerk.

• Heard a request from Caroline Scales regarding a sewer tie-in matter at 184 Pine Street in Bude.

• Police Chief Reggie Cain approached the board about bringing long-time police officer Everett Marshall, who retired earlier this year, back in a limited capacity to work for the town’s police department.

• Discussed the approval of funding — in the amount of $121,687.50 — through the United States Department of Agriculture to repair erosion issues in a storm drainage ditch.

The town would be required to match $36,875 to cover its share of the project — some of which could be in the form of in-kind labor and services provided by the town.

The scope of work would also require the town to seek easements from adjacent property owners.

• Visited with Franklin County District 3 Supervisor Mike “Dirt” Hunt regarding public works projects in the town, including assisting with the clean up of the old wood yard and addressing the closed “Billy Goat” bridge.

• Heard a report from Williamson, who had met with the town’s engineer regarding the replacement of a gasket on a gate at the sewer lagoon.

The repair project was reportedly completed by the contractor — Greenbriar Digging Services of Brookhaven — that had previously worked on the sewer lagoon infrastructure.

• Approved 17 water adjustments related to errors associated with newly installed digital water meters on the municipal potable water system.

The next business meeting for the Bude Board of Aldermen will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7 at town hall on Railroad Avenue, and is open to the public.