Bellevue case to continue into the New YearBy BUSTER WOLFE,
For the Lamar County residents who have been fighting incorporating the City of Bellevue, the recent withdrawal of the petition and motion to dismiss the case has been a burden.
As far as a financial burden, attorney William Ducker of Purvis hopes Senior Status Judge Michael H. Ward of Gulfport sees the expense and time the incorporation petition has caused. A dismissal of the petition to incorporate with prejudice would allow the judge to decide who pay attorney fees and whether the Bellevue group will have to wait to refile.
On Dec. 15, J. Chadwick Mask of Jackson – the attorney representing Lamar County residents who want to set up the City of Bellevue – filed a motion to dismiss the current effort in the William J. “Pete” Gamble III Chancery Courthouse.
Proposed Bellevue Mayor John Adcock said the petition would be refiled “in the near future.”
“This action is taken to allow an opportunity to obtain a minimal amount of additional signatures and refile the petition to incorporate in the near future,” he said in a statement, adding that he wanted to be certain about the petition. “Out of an abundance of caution, the best course of action is to voluntarily withdraw the Petitions, obtain additional signatures, and re-file their Petition to Incorporate. … Simply put, the incorporation of the new City of Bellevue is far too important an endeavor to continue without undeniable certainty.”
The residents opposing incorporation have said since the petition was filed on May 19 that there were not enough valid signatures on the incorporation papers. The total number of signatures fell about 1,000 signatures short of the number required by law to complete the process, with another 300 needed and 600 more signatures that appeared to be invalid.
The petition for incorporating a town must have signatures of at least two-thirds of the qualified electors in the area to be incorporated.
Judge Ward will have more crucial questions to answer – Can the signatures already collected be used to refile the petition, as Mask said they can? Or do the Bellevue incorporators have to start over collecting signatures from scratch, as Ducker believes? The answer to those questions may decide what route the future of Bellevue’s incorporation plans take.
A decision on the validity of the current signatures could be decided within the next month.