Court grants Ridgeland annexation
Ridgeland officials can move forward with the annexation of land just west of town that includes a proposed landfill barring an appeal.
Mayor Gene F. McGee said that he was pleased with the court's decision and hopes to begin offering services to the new residents of Ridgeland as soon as possible in the area along West County Line Road west of I-55.
“I think our team did a great job and brought evidence to prove what they needed to prove,” McGee said. “Hopefully we can get this finalized, move forward and start providing the citizens in the annexed area with the services we promised to provide.”
Chancery Court Judge James C. Walker ruled in favor of the city in The City of Ridgeland v. NCL Waste, LLC and Bilberry Family Limited Partnership on Oct. 9.
The annexation concerns 3,130 acres west of Ridgeland that extends west to the Madison County border along North County Line Road where it borders Hinds County. NCL has been trying to build a landfill on some of the annexed lands. Ridgeland residents and officials have been vocal opponents of the landfill and the annexation would put the land under their control and not Madison County.
“Upon consideration of the testimony and substantial and credible evidence, the Court finds that under the totality of circumstances, the annexation proposed by the City of Ridgeland is reasonable under the twelve indicia of reasonableness and required by the public convenience and necessity; that reasonable public and municipal services will be rendered within a reasonable time; and, that the governing authority of the municipality has complied with applicable law pertaining to the subject annexation,” Judge Walker wrote.
“Accordingly, this Court hereby approves, ratifies and confirms the annexation ordinance and proposed enlargement of the City’s boundaries and awards the Toal proposed annexation area to the City of Ridgeland pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. 21-1-33.”
Opponents have 30 days following the decision to make an appeal. As of Wednesday McGee was not aware of any appeals being filed.
“We think the decision was right on target,” McGee said. “We are excited about the annexation and think the judge made the proper ruling.”
Kelly Simpkins and John Scanlon represented the city. They had to prove the city’s need for expansion, based on indicators like population size and traffic counts, as well as its ability to properly offer services to in the annexed area. This included showing that they have zoning and overall planning in place for the area.
Community Development Director Alan Hart said that the city is already working on promoting development in the area.
“We have already visited with developers interested in developing in the new annexation area, and we see great opportunities for quality growth,” Hart said.
He said he is “particularly excited” about the prospect of offering community development-related services to the area. He said the annexed area is important for the future of the city.
“The Mayor and Board of Aldermen recognize that this annexation is very important not only for the residents of the area but also for the growth and sustainability of the City of Ridgeland,” Hart said.
Even without an appeal, NCL Waste LLC continues legal action with entities in Madison County. They filed the suit in Madison County Circuit Court on Sept. 9 against Madison County seeking $60 million for what they call a breach of contract after supervisors opted earlier this year to not conduct a new solid waste study.
During the July 20 board meeting, supervisors voted in executive session 3-2 not to proceed with a new solid waste study at this time. District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones, District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter and District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen all voted not to proceed at the time.
NCL is seeking $5 million for “actual, consequential and incidental contract damages,” $5 million for the county having been “unjustly enriched and disgorging,” and $50 million for expected future lost profits.
Heidelberg Patterson Welch PLLC of Ridgeland filed the lawsuit on behalf of NCL.
Supervisors approved the hiring of Robert J. Dambrino III of Grenada, with the firm Gore Kilpatrick & Dambrino PLLC, to assist Board Attorney Mike Espy with the litigation in September after the suit was filed. Dambrino’s rate of pay is $200 per hour to assist in the case.