The Petal landowner who was given 30 days by the Petal Board of Aldermen in November to make improvements at several of his sites has made some progress – but it may not be quite enough for board members.
The matter was discussed at a recent board meeting, when Jimmie Dale Odom, who owns dozens of parcels in Forrest County – including throughout Petal and Hattiesburg – said he has removed many of his tagless or inoperable vehicles from his property by the Anything Automotive building on U.S. 11. Ward 1 Alderman Gerald Steele expressed his opinion that there are still too many vehicles on the site, but Odom said he is doing the best he can.
“I want to get along with everybody and try to do what you want me to do, and I try to help Petal,” Odom said. “I buy property and fix it up, and rent it or lease it to people, and I’ve done that up and down Central Avenue and over on the Bypass in Hattiesburg.
“But you know, you don’t never get no recognition for the good things you try to do. I don’t see anything that those cars are hurting; they’re lined up real good. If you go to these other places in Petal … our (cars) are lined up just about better than anybody else, except for maybe (one or two others).”
Another issue is that the site is not zoned for “car lot” use. Odom said the property has served as such for 60 years, but Mayor Tony Ducker said the site is not eligible to be grandfathered in and Odom must obtain the proper permits.
“It’s kind of like when (my house) got annexed into the city,” Ducker said. “Then all of a sudden I fell under certain (city) rules, and I didn’t when I first moved into that house.
“I don’t know when (the site) didn’t get approved (for car lot use), but obviously it just kind of went on and on. So obviously, we’re not trying to put anybody out of business or anything, but we want to be faithful to other people …. when we go out and try to enforce code.”
In addition, Ward 4 Alderman Craig Strickland said no real attempt was being made to sell the vehicles, as Odom’s exorbitant prices prohibit anyone from buying them.
“So when you take those cars, you title them and put them on a lot, and you put a $10,000 sticker on a $2,000 car, how are you going to sell it?” Strickland told Odom. “I’ve talked to many people who have said you ask too much money for the cars you’re trying to sell.
“I don’t see those cars moving.”
Odom said an acquaintance of his is expected to lease the lot and help sell some of the vehicles, and the matter will be addressed again at an upcoming board meeting.
Ward 3 Alderman Blake Nobles also addressed some of Odom’s other properties that have sat unmaintained and incurred various code violations over the years. Nobles particularly mentioned a property on West Central Avenue that has sewer issues and a dilapidated barn in the back; last July, Odom was given 90 days to clean up that site.
“All of this has been going on for quite a while,” Nobles told Odom. “On lots where you have people renting out, you have three houses that have sewer lines that lead to the back yard of another house. And you just left it.”
Odom agreed to work with the city’s code enforcement officer to make progress on the properties before the next board meeting.