Condo developers still considering appeal

Published 12:24 am Friday, October 26, 2007

NATCHEZ — The developers with plans to locate condominiums on the bluffs have not yet decided whether or not to appeal a state decision not to grant them a permit.

In September, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees rejected a permit for Worley Brown, LLC, to build condominiums, citing safety concerns.

At a regular meeting last week, the board unanimously approved a formalized resolution rejecting the permit.

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In the written opinion, the board concluded “the proposed construction would likely negatively affect the stability and integrity of the site from a geological standpoint.”

The opinion cites a Burns Cooley Dennis geotechnical study, which the board required be completed.

The study’s author, Eddie Templeton, said at the September hearing that the construction of the condos would not negatively impact the stability of the bluff.

Among other sections, the opinion cites sections of the study that say groundwater and changes in the river could result in bluff failures. The proposed five-story buildings and swimming pool also concerned the board, the opinion says.

Developer Larry Brown said Thursday his company had not made a decision whether or not to appeal the board’s decision to the court system.

“We’re just kind of weighing all of our options right now,” he said.

A suit addressing the city’s sale of the land to Worley Brown — which some say was illegal because, among other things, it was sold for less than the appraised value — is still pending an appeal in Mississippi Supreme Court.

“Until that happens, I presume not much will happen with the land,” he said.

Brown said there have been no discussions regarding selling the land or creating any other developments on the site of the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Factory.

Brown said he did find problems with the board’s rejection of the permit.

“We take issue with the fact that A&H pulled three short excerpts from many pages of the Burns Cooley Dennis study to include in their geotechnical reports,” he said. “And A&H cited those excerpts out of context in order to justify their decision, when the report and the testimony in its entirety makes it clear that Burns Cooley Dennis found no stability issues with the bluff.”

At the September meeting, the board also heard from David Dockery of the Mississippi Office of Geology, who was called to speak at the meeting and was not connected with the project.