DH can now buy city hall property
By Dwayne Bremer
Jun 13, 2014, 20:13
Chancery Court Judge Carter Bice on Thursday okayed a bond for the city of Diamondhead which will enable the city to purchase and renovate its current city hall location.
In April, the Diamondhead City Council approved a resolution to obtain a $1.2 million bond for the city hall purchase.
The city has been leasing the Diamondhead Baptist Church property since January 2013, and the bond will allow the city to purchase the property and make renovations, officials said.
Ninety-seven Diamondhead residents, led by Pete Kopf, objected to the bond, and per state law, a validation hearing was set in chancery court.
Attorney Bill Kulick, who represented the objectors, admitted that the bond followed some parts of the state's lease-purchase law, but he pointed to "underlying factors" why the bond should be rejected.
Kulick said two members of the city council were members of the Baptist church, and he said that the city did not properly advertise the bond to give citizens a chance to object prior to it being accepted.
"This is madness," Kulick said.
City Attorney Sean Tindell said Thursday that the bond was legally acquired and any other issues were "irrelevant" to the validation hearing.
"The objectors really don't care what the law is, they just don't want the city to acquire the property," Tindell said.
"The purpose of this hearing is not to determine if it was a wise decision, only if the bond was legally made."
State bond attorney Spence Flatgard testified that he has reviewed the city's bond and it is in line with the lease purchase law.
Kulick asked Flatgard if such a bond required that a notice be published in the newspaper.
Flatgart said that since the city was not pledging "full faith in credit" to repay the bond, it was within the statute not to publish a notice.
After hearing testimony from Kopf, Bice ruled in favor of the city and validated the bond.
Tindell said the city will acquire the bond in coordination with the South Mississippi Investment Company, which will hold the property deed until the purchase is complete.
"We are pleased with the judge's ruling and hoping to move forward soon," Tindell said.