Debris permit issued for Pecan Factory

Published 11:41 am Friday, February 23, 2007

A chancery court hearing involving the old Natchez Pecan Factory scheduled for today will not take place.

The hearing was set to address the temporary restraining order the attorney general’s office filed against the city earlier this month when Mayor Phillip West signed an executive order to have the pecan factory demolished.

“The city and Worley Brown, LLC, agreed to another 10 days under the temporary restraining order,” said Harold Pizzetta, assistant to the attorney general.

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The restraining order is a temporary fix, so it has to be renewed every 10 days, he said.

“We talked to the court and again, the court encouraged us to try to work things out,” Pizzetta said.

The two sides have another 10 days to resolve their issues, or the attorney general’s office starts asking at a more permanent restraining order, he said.

The Department of Archives and History issued a permit Thursday allowing the city to remove the pecan factory debris. The permit restricts the city, requiring them to make sure the earth below the debris is not disturbed, Pizzetta said.

West said Thursday he did not know about the hearing, the extension or the permit.

The first hearing took place in Chancery Judge George Ward’s court Feb. 12. Attorneys for West, the attorney general and developers Ed Worley and Larry Brown spoke privately with the judge at the time.

Then, Ward extended the temporary restraining order, setting it to expire today.

The city was ordered to work with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, on whose behalf the attorney general filed the order. Ward instructed the city to apply for a permit to clear the pile of rubble created by the demolition.

Ward also refused to dissolve the restraining order and the complaint at that time, as City Attorney Everett Sanders requested.

The judge said he would wait to close the case until he had heard from both parties.

Representatives for MDAH say West broke the law when he tore down the Mississippi landmark without a permit from the department, as is required by law and an agreement between the two entities.

West has said he made the decision to demolish the building because people were entering the building and it posed a public health hazard and a liability to the city.

Since the sale of the land to the developers is being addressed in court, West said he felt the situation was too dangerous to wait for the ownership to be decided.

Ward and Sanders could not be reached for comment Thursday.