Thursday, June 14, 2012
Developers selling no lots want out
By SUE WATSON
Two developers who have sold no lots want their subdivision properties taken out of plats, according to recent discussions in the Marshall County Board of Supervisors.
One subdivision owner has a case in circuit court seeking to dissolve a 34-lot subdivision and a second subdivision owner requested his three-lot subdivision plan be rezoned at the May 21 board of supervisors’ meeting
The board denied a request by Valley Oaks LLC to dissolve an approved and platted subdivision of 34 lots and return it back to original zoning. The owner had not sold any lots and had lain a subdivision road but not topped it off at 3 inches of asphalt. Bond had run out on the development and supervisors stated they did not want to rezone the property because the county would lose close to $11,000 in taxes a year as opposed to bringing in about $500 in taxes a year on the property if it is dissolved.
The board tabled the request by Valley Oaks LLC to withdraw the plat at the December 19, 2011, meeting of the board of supervisors. The plaintiff contended in a lawsuit (Valley Oaks LLC vs. Marshall County, Mississippi, Board of Supervisors) that the plaintiff will experience tax consequences because the board tabled the decision, in essence denying the request. The plaintiff contends the board of supervisors has no authority to deny the withdrawal of the plat - a right of landowners guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Mississippi and the U.S. Constitution.
The complaint did not specify the reasons for the request to dissolve the plat other than tax consequences. Valley Oaks Subdivision was approved by the Marshall County Board of Supervisors on April 8, 2008, according to the lawsuit.
The owner filed a lawsuit requesting his subdivision be dissolved.
Attorney Bill Schneller for the plaintiff, said the owners need tax relief because there is no development for small lots in the county. Valley Oaks LLC is divided into 1.5-acre lots, he said, on about 100 acres situated on South Red Banks Road.
“The small lot market is gone,” he said. “The owners need the opportunity to step back and look at the market for larger lots. My clients’ argument is that the subdivision no longer has any value but the county wants to tax it higher. Everybody in the county has the right to use their property as they see fit. The statutes provide for subdivision and for dissolution. It’s the property owner’s right to decide how to use their property, not the county’s right.”
More recently Johnny Dailey asked for his three-lot subdivision plat – Dailey Heights – be dissolved because he has sold no lots.
Board attorney Kent Smith urged the board to be consistent in whatever action it takes on requests to dissolve subdivisions as the county is being sued in circuit court by the Valley Oaks Subdivision owner. Smith said he believes any vote coming before the board of supervisors now will be put in the arguments in court.
Zoning director Conway Moore said she remembers two or three subdivisions that the planning commission and board of supervisors allowed to be dissolved, but none recently, she said.
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