Aldermen amend land lease bill

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NATCHEZ — The company planning to put a casino at the base of Roth Hill asked Tuesday for an extension on their planned land lease from 50 to 99 years.

The board of aldermen approved the request from the Lane Company at their regular board meeting.

Attorney Walter Brown asked for approval of a resolution to change local and private legislation issued in 2001.

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The bill in 2001 asked that the land leases on four riverfront properties — Cock of the Walk, Roth Hill Road, Pecan Factory and Broadway hotel sites — be eligible for 50-year leases.

“We did this in 2001 because we wanted to market these four properties,” Brown said.

The previous statute only allowed leasing land for term of office.

The amendment to this bill will only apply to Cock of the Walk and Roth Hill Road, as the other two properties have been sold.

In the negotiations with the Lane Company, the city agreed to lease the land for 99 years because the company wanted a lease longer than 50 years. Brown said he believes this enhances the investment in the eyes of the Lane Company.

The resolution was adopted by the board and will now go to the legislature for approval.

In other business, Joe Regnery, Rentech’s Natchez project coordinator, came before the board to ask for a resolution for non-annexation of the future plant’s land.

Regnery said the plant would like to stay on county property and not be annexed into the city.

The resolution was adopted unanimously.

In the mayor’s reports, Mayor Phillip West announced that he met with Reps. Robert Johnson and Sam Mims, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other representatives to inquire about getting funds to overlay the four major arteries of Natchez; St. Catherine, Franklin, Homochitto and Martin Luther King Jr. streets.

It was agreed that a bill will be written and set in motion to grant the city between $1.3 and $1.5 million to overlay these streets that have been designated gaming roads.

“I feel really good about it,” West said.

During department head reports, Sabrena Bartley, executive director of Adult Services and Public Transportation, announced that the city’s trolley is completely restored.

Ride the Trolley Day will be Monday at the visitor center starting at 10 a.m. Any day next week, citizens will be allowed to ride the trolley for free.

The trolley will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will service the downtown area.

After the week of free rides, $3 daily passes must be purchased. This includes unlimited rides.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the trolley hours will be tailored to meet demands.

In other business, Tom Scarborough, Natchez resident, approached the board and asked about allocating funds to clean up an illegal dump in a gully off Cemetery Road.

The gully contains discarded appliances, construction material and commercial trash, Scarborough said.

The board said they would look into it. Scarborough also asked about implementing a curbside recycling pick-up and Alderman Bob Pollard said that was discussed during a beautification committee meeting and is being addressed.