HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Retired Chancellor Robert Lancaster of Columbus consolidated both Forrest and Lamar county's appeal against Hattiesburg's annexation plans Wednesday morning.
City of Hattiesburg's attorney, John Scanlon said, "The city of Hattiesburg filed identical petitions and identical complaints in both counties." He continued, "We are simply asking the court to consolidate those matters for judicial economy so that everything is more streamlined."
Chancellor Lancaster set a new hearing date for Jan 27, 2017. He said both parties have 120 days to obtain extra evidence.
Rawl Springs' Attorney, Robin Roberts said, "We have a judge from Columbus and has to travel down here, it just makes sense logistically for certain matters to be heard together."
Residents from Forrest, Lamar, and Hattiesburg had a chance to voice their opinions about the annexation during the public hearing, but no citizens spoke.
Bellevue's Attorney Chadwick Mask said, "The Bellevue citizens certainly believe that the case is appropriately to be heard in Lamar county, Mississippi."
Mask added, "What we care about is that the case is actually heard in Lamar county, because that is where property at issued is located on Highway 98, so its Lamar county and its entirety and that is where the folks live."
Lamar County Attorney Tim Holleman said, "The city is doing not more but taking businesses...that is not what annexation is about, annexation is about providing services to citizens, not taking businesses for tax purposes essentially."
During the Jan 27 hearing date Judge Lancaster may set an official trial date.
TAG: DURING NEXT YEAR’S HEARING DATE, THE JUDGE MAY OR MAY NOT SET A TRIAL DATE.