City, MDAH yet to agree on debris permit for Pecan Factory

Published 2:05 pm Saturday, February 24, 2007

Even though the state has issued a permit allowing the city to clear the debris from the demolished Natchez Pecan Shelling Factory, residents won’t see dump trucks hauling it away in the next few days.

The city has disagreements with aspects of the permit, City Attorney Everett Sanders said Friday.

“They provided us with a permit which we reviewed and had some problems with some of the language,” Sander said.

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Because the city and Mississippi Department of Archives and History are still in talks, Sanders said he didn’t want to get into details of the city’s argument.

“It might jeopardize our ability to negotiate,” he said.

According to the permit MDAH issued Thursday allowing the city to remove the rubble left by the demolition, it was issued out of concern for public health and safety.

The permit requires the city salvage, repair and properly store any architectural artifacts identified by MDAH for preservation. It requires the city enter into a contract with an archeological firm MDAH approves to oversee the debris removal. The city also may not disturb the land, which may contain artifacts.

The city agreed Thursday to a 10-day extension to the temporary restraining order concerning the pecan factory land.

“That’s to allow for the negotiations,” Sanders said Friday. “We are trying to negotiate with the language in the permit. We agreed to it only because we are trying to resolve this in an amicable fashion.”

Sanders said he thought the city and the attorney general’s office, which is handling the case for MDAH, were following Chancery Judge George Ward’s directions to work together.

“I think that an effort is being made on the part of all the parties,” Sanders said. “We are at a point where if the matter’s going to be resolved, it should be resolved in the next week.”

Sanders would not elaborate on what long-term solutions might be if the city did not agree to the debris removal permit.

“There are things that need to be addressed before it’s accepted,” he said.

Mayor Phillip West issued an executive order earlier this month to demolish the state designated landmark because he said he felt it was a safety hazard to the community.