Supreme Court rules in favor of Natchez

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, April 10, 2008

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ruling that the city of Natchez had the authority to approve a condominium development at the site of a closed pecan factory.

A group of residents sued the city in 2006, arguing that the city broke the law when it sold the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Company land below its appraised value. The developers paid $500,000 for the bluff property. The residents argued the appraised value was $700,000.

Circuit Judge Forrest A. Johnson ruled in the lawsuit that the price for the property was reasonable and within the authority of the mayor and board to accept.

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State law allows governments to sell land below its appraised value if the benefits from the sale more than justify the selling of the property, the city argued in the lawsuit.

The developers were not involved in the legal action.

The developers plan to build a 75-unit luxury condominium complex with a total construction cost of about $19.3 million. The old plant building, situated on the north end of the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, will be torn down to make way for the project.

The site of the old 1940s era Natchez Pecan Shelling Co. has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983, but city officials said it was of little historical value.

The city transferred the property to the developers in May 2006 but the lawsuit has stalled any work on the project.